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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

RICHARD FREEMAN: A round up of weird animal news

Just a few news stories that have caught my eye recently:

Remember Rolf Harris with 'Jake the Peg (and his extra leg?) Well, I think Jake must be running a farm in Australia by the look of these stories.



American alligators rarely exceed 10 feet these days. However, in Alabama a couple of huge ones have been recently killed. Matt Thornton killed a 13 foot, 5 inch 'gator in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, tipping the scales at 705 lbs. John Sutton killed a 12 foot, 10 inch specimen from the Tenshaw River. Though many crocodile species get vastly larger, 'gators of this size are now very uncommon.

Why people have to kill these magnificent beasts is beyond me. Is it to prove that they are men? If so they fail abysmally and prove only that they are juvenile cowards. By killing big male 'gators they are diluting the gene for large size and are robbing the world of spectacular animals.


I'm middle-aged and have a beer belly so the next story gives me hope. A plump, middle-aged Slovenian has just swum 3,274 miles down the Amazon, braving caiman, piranhas and the genital-burrowing candiru fish. The reason: it was there!

Apparently his doctor told him to give up drinking so he had a bottle of red wine, some whiskey and a beer. What a guy!


1 comment:

Michael Malone said...

Hi Jon! It's your gator hunting friend from North Alabama here, and since you talked about gators in Alabama I had to throw in my two cents.

I couldn't get the link to the Alligator story to work, but I thought I'd let you in on the story of Alligator hunting in Alabama. Not a defense as much as an explanation.

The hunting for gators is allowed in two parts of the state at two different times, both in the month of August.

Sounds like both of these trophies were taken in the Mobile district which had hunting from August 14-17 and August 21-24. It is also the largest of the two hunts with 125 tags issued. That means only 125 gators were to be taken in that hunt.

The limit is 6 feet or longer. With that said, I personally think the state should modify the law to prevent killing a gator 10 feet or longer, but the law is only a minimum and it is 6 feet.

Now, how do you know that you've gotten a 6 foot alligator before you shoot it? Here is where the law disturbs me. You have to CATCH the gator alive before you shoot it. That's right. The gator must be caught living, measured and then you can kill it.

The methods of capture are limited, but personally I'd like to see them even more restrictive. You can use a snare, a pole snare, a harpoon or a fishing bow. Must catch the gator, bring it alongside of your boat, measure it, then quickly kill it. If you use a firearm, it must be either a shotgun with with #4 shot or a .38 caliber bangstick.

Somehow that all seems cruel to me. First, these animals are beautiful creatures. I can appreciate hunting, and can even accept that some animals need to be hunted to keep them healthy and populations under control. But if 125 Alligators is all that can be taken, then I don't see the point. That's not control... that's giving in to the public's demand for gator hunting.

Recently on my blog I talk briefly about the fact that locals here in North Alabama seem to be illegally hunting the gators. I've heard the story too many times to think its not got some truth. Too many fishermen each April claim to find dead one foot gators on their fishing lines. April is when the gators start hunting after winter, and mating season is just around the corner in May so they are bulking up as quickly as they can. I suspect many of these smaller gators didn't die on the line, but with a little help.

It's a sad thing. The gators are considered a nuisance. It wasn't that long ago that they were considered endangered. Even the National Wildlife Service in North Alabama thinks of the gators as a problem instead of a protected resource. Its amazingly frustrating to some city boy who just wants to go see a gator living free in the wilds of a place that maybe they shouldn't be in.