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At least in much of Terrebonne Parish:

An official from a major local land company and holder of hundreds of hunting leases in Terrebonne Parish, announced today that due to the rumors that the going price per foot for big alligators is dropping to half of what it was last year. These lease holders/hunters will not be issued alligator tags this season, and the tags will be returned to LDWF.  In other words, 


A 52-year old local alligator hunter (who chooses not to be named) said, “I’ve been fishing alligators since I was a boy, and this is the first time we’ve not hunted gators due to price.  In the past, the season has been canceled due to other things like hurricanes but never because of low price.”

In the past, the bigger gators went for up to $65 a foot, and the lowest the price has dropped in the past was as low as as $25 per foot for the big gators and $12 per foot for those under six feet long.

gator-girlThe reason for the lower price is the drop in demand and the glut in supply.  Wild gator hunters aren’t the only ones who supply gator hides for sale to the hide buyers.  The alligator farmers also harvest farm-raised gators for their hide.  And the Catch 22 is that alligator farmers often purchase the wild gator hides from the hunter through a land company.  My understanding is that the alligator farmers have a major overstock of frozen hides stacked up in freezers as far away as Thailand.  Why?

Well, because the folks with the big bucks just aren’t into wearing wild hides any more–at least not as much as they once were. Most of the alligator hides these days are made into smaller items like watch bands and belts.  Gone are the days of the lady with the alligator purse.  Maybe cowboys have abandoned their gator-hide boots for more exotic hides like ostrich.  When was the last time you saw an alligator suitcase?

march-gatorRegardless, Terrebonne Parish DOES NOT have a shortage of alligators–quite the opposite.  The alligator protection and restoration project implemented by LDWF back in the 80s has been very, very successful.  So much so, that there is absolutely no threat of alligators becoming endangered anytime soon.  Actually, a controlled hunting season is a huge part of the program and guarantees the survival rate of the American alligator in these parts and keeps them from overpopulation.  If the number of dead gators on the side of the road* this summer is any indication of the healthy population, and with the absence of a hunting season, we’ll be overrun by alligators soon enough. 

gatorhunt-162For decades, local alligator hunters have looked forward to this once-a-year alligator hunting season. Back in the days when bayou people lived completely off the wetlands, they counted on the income from hunting alligators to get them through until the winter fur-trapping season.  Now, most alligator hunters take their vacation time from their day jobs during gator season because gator hunting is part of their heritage, and they want to continue to pass that heritage down to their children and grandchildren. Sadly, none of the bayou people trap fur-bearing animals for winter income, because the market for wild furs is nil.  

If the market doesn’t see an upturn in demand for alligator hides for the production of purses, boots, and bigger items, like custom-made furniture, this might be the beginning of the end of yet one more way of life for the bayou people.  

What’s next, friends, what’s next?


* (Roadkill gator is a terrible thing, but sometimes it just can’t be avoided, especially at night.  Just ask my Cuz Kay and Cuz Susan about that late-night ride on the crossroad . . . but it didn’t die.)

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  1. No, that dude did not die! Wasn’t even injured after ripping off the front bumper. No blood or gator anywhere.

    What a horrible situation for the hunters and ultimately for the over populated alligators. I was hoping for another year of “Swamp People” but I knew that wasn’t happening at the end of last years episodes. I feel bad for the true gator fishers that make a living from them.

    Oh, what a lovely idea to have an alligator suitcase!

    1. I’m really glad that phantom gator survived to cross the road again another night! Just to clarify – This newsflash refers to one particular land company here and may extend to other parishes wherein they have leases. Other land companies may follow suite, and I’m not sure how far-reaching this price drop is. If Swamp People wasn’t going to film for another season, I doubt this has anything to do with that decision, since this edit just came down yesterday.

  2. I hate that it has come to this. Too many people against using what nature provides for our use has not helped. I don’t mind admitting I had alligator trimmed shoes. They were my first pair of heels at the ripe old age of 14! Going to miss watching the Swamp People series. But not as much as they will miss having that cushion to fall back on.

    1. Alligator heels at 14! Awesome! As I explained to Kaye, I guess the decision not to film another season was already made long before this announcement was made! But, lots of folks will miss the show, and yes, the hunters will definitely miss the income.

  3. Will these land owners still allow alligator farms on their properties to fulfill Fed regulations? The alligator farms will still have to put back into the wild.
    It’s time alligator suitcases, shoes, boots and purses came back into fashion.
    Here’s another thought. I guess I’d best stock up on alligator meat too. We won’t be able to buy it or it will be so expensive we won’t won’t to buy it!

    1. I wish I had a place to buy fresh alligator meat. My husband and son love it. I was at a Central Market today and was going to pickup some scallops but, YIKES!! I could buy fishing & hunting license probably for what 2 lbs of those things cost! I did come home with 1 1/2 bushels of Hatch chili peppers that I had roasted while I shopped. I’ve been cleaning them and now my hands are burning a bit. I used a baking soda/water mixture and rubbed on them and let it set. Seems to have helped a lot.

    2. The alligator farms only have to return 14% of the hatched babies back into the area from they purchased the eggs. They key is, to leave the eggs alone, because Mother Nature will balance that part out. Eggs hatched at a farm and returned at about two years old have a better survival rate than those hatched in the wild. So, if they don’t buy eggs to hatch and raise at the farm, then they don’t have to return babies to the marsh. Yes, stock up on gator meat if you really like it. I’m still not sure how wide spread this decision not to hunt has spread, but this particular company owns a lot of wetlands in this parish.

    3. Steffie – in hindsight, the farmers can still supply farm-raised alligator meat to the markets, so theres hold not be a scarcity of it or a hike in price. Theoretically, anyway.

  4. I have an alligator belt…couldn’t find an authentic alligator purse…at a decent price. Maybe I should go shopping again! Might find a great deal!

  5. This decision is now official for at least two of the major land companies around here: Continental Land and Fur and Apache Land and Minerals.