What happens to nuisance alligators in Florida?

DID YOU KNOW: If you’ve ever encountered an alligator in Florida…that’s pretty normal.

The state is home to an estimated 1.3 million alligators that can be found in all 67 counties. But even though it might be common to see an alligator, not everyone, especially small pet owners, wants one roaming on their private property.

DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME: The good news is that if you want to safely remove an alligator from your property, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP) to take care of that for you. The alligator must be at least four feet long to be considered a threat and eligible for removal.

The program contracts private citizens, who are known as nuisance alligator trappers, to remove the alligator from a property and are later allowed to keep them. But the job can be dangerous. Last June, a video of a nuisance alligator trapper being headbutted by the animal just outside of Orlando went viral.

MOST SURPRISING FACT: In 2017, SNAP received 13,210 nuisance alligator complaints and 8,455 nuisance alligators were removed. It is illegal in the Florida to relocate a nuisance alligator to another spot in the wild, so the gator has to be killed, euthanized, or put in captivity.

“If anyone should be mad at someone they should be mad at the people that somehow tamed that alligator, through food or attention,” said Sam Haught, the co-owner and co-founder of Wild Florida Airboats. “It’s almost always food. But that’s the public’s fault, not the alligators.”

FWC says there’s not enough work to hire any trappers full-time, so they’re compensated with whatever money they make selling the gators to entertainment parks or off of alligator products, like meat and hides. You can find more information on how to become a nuisance alligator trapper here.

WHAT TO DO: Anyone concerned about an alligator should call the Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).

By Pulptown Creative Studio
The Pulptown Creative Studio helps clients big and small engage locals, through campaigns that use creative marketing, storytelling, events, and activations to build community, conversation, and impact.