Farm Alligator Returns — 21 Comments

  1. What a fantastic adventure – would have loved to have been there to see it, but yer article & photos do it a great justice! Ye know how much we love & respect the Gators!

    • It’s all so fascinating, isn’t it? Two weeks ago, the swamp was buzzing with the sounds of helicopters while the men marked the nests full of eggs. Then last week, the swamp was buzzing with the motors of airboats actually collecting the eggs from the nests. The return of young gators preceded both of these events. May and June are busy times for those involved in gator conservation! The only thing they won’t let me do is ride with them out to collect eggs. One day . . . .

  2. Reading this while “Swamp People” is on my TV in the background. A natural.

    Gator trailer smelled great I imagine. I didn’t know the released gators’ tails were notched like that. The number of eggs gathered, hatched, cared for, then fed for a few years and released, are staggering. I knew it was a lot but didn’t realize the quantity compared to the number of adults harvested during gator hunting. No wonder the swamp is teeming with them. And not counting the ones that are live “speed bumps” that survive!

    As always, your writing is fun and informative. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experiences with us, Cuz.

    • Oh my gosh, Cuz! I hadn’t thought about that “speed bump” gator in a while. Sure glad he lived, but so sorry about the damage to Susan’s car, LOL!!!

  3. You stumble along the most interesting people BW! I didn’t realize alligator farming helped the population so much. Another very interesting post!

    • I think it’s all so interesting to learn about. I’ve been watching these guys do this year after year, and one day I will beg to follow them in my boat to see the actual return of the gators and to photograph it. The other thing, as I said above, is to go with them to collect the eggs … too much liability for them, or that’s what the boss told me.

  4. I had no idea this was going on! It really is a complex system they’re devised, and clearly it’s working just fine. I still remember the day I found these baby gators. It’s pretty obvious that they have a better chance of survival spending some time on the farm. On the other hand, how you gonna keep ’em down on the farm, once they hear the tales of the swamp?

    If you keep hanging around, I’ll bet you’ll get some of your photos. I’m sure liability is an issue, and concern that “just sightseers” might make things difficult. But you’re far from just a sightseer, and they’ll figure that out soon enough.

    • The part I can’t photograph is mainly because they are collecting eggs in private marshes, and short of being on an airboat with them, it’s nearly impossible for me to get out there and photograph the egg collection! Maybe one day . . . .

    • On the other hand, how you gonna keep ’em down on the farm, once they hear the tales of the swamp?
      LOL, best line in this thread!

  5. Fascinating process! My daughter & I visited an alligator ranch a few years ago and found it absolutely fascinating. It’s good to be reminded of just how successful this program is. I think I’m overdue for another visit. Would also love to watch the release actually taking place. How exciting. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    • Welcome to this bayou blog, Betty! There are just so many interesting facets to life on the bayou and wildlife on the bayou! Have you ever taken a swamp tour down this way?

  6. I wouldn’t mind seeing the process in person from start to finish. Not sure what is more dangerous…taking the eggs or returning a gator to the wild.

    • I think taking the eggs is more dangerous, because that is when the female is actually the fiercest. She guards the nest, so one guy has to watch for her with a big stick to fend her off while the other guy loads up the eggs. And remember that’s not a speedy process since they have to be marked first, and then layered between layers of the nesting material so they don’t crack enroute back to the dock. One day I will get to photograph the egg collecting, one day . . . . .

  7. In the last few years, I have noticed that the Alligators in the canal behind my Dad’s place are no longer very shy of humans. If we are picking blackberries along the edge of they canal, instead of shying away as they used to do, they appear to be curious and approach closer than they have done in years gone by. I fear that the hatch and release programs will lead to gators becoming more brave–which will in turn lead to more gators being killed by homeowners. It guess it’s difficult to find the balance to preserve these creatures.

    • PJ – Let’s think on this a minute. In my experience on the water with my tours, I think those gators have been fed by humans. Whether someone goes back there and throws old food in the canal or intentionally throws the gators a chicken leg or marshmallow, they are being conditioned not to fear humans. It is not natural for them to approach, even if they were farm raised. They are only at the farm for a couple of years and are not even then hand fed, which you know. So, then, when they are returned to the wild, they must fight for their food among all the other bigger gators. Again, they are very easily conditioned using food, so I hold fast that someone has fed them in that canal. Is that likely? It was great meeting you, by the way!!!!

      • Yes, it’s Paulette 🙂 No one on my Dad’s property has ever fed them, but the canal runs quite some distance so I guess someone else could be feeding them. All of the land that borders the canal is farmland with cattle, so it seem odd that anyone would be going back there to feed the gators. Who knows!

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