1. Alligator as commodities.
Though purses and boots made of alligator leather have been a part of fashion for some time – a practice that can be dated back to the 1700’s - alligator has often been hunted and used for a variety of purposes. Alligator leather became important during the Civil War as a substitute for cow leather, which was rare due to naval blockades, and during the same era fat from alligators was even used to make soap and lubricate cotton machinery. In the early period of Florida statehood, trade in alligator leather was an important industry – exporting 280,000 skins annually, worth approximately $10 million in today’s dollars. Alligator meat and even eggs became apart of southeastern cuisine in the mid 1800’s and continues to be on offer today. As a tourist in the early 1900’s you could even take home a live pet baby alligator – though this often did not end well for either the alligator or the would be owner. Tourists today still take home teeth, claws, and stuffed or mounted skulls, however. Yet, alligators didn’t always get the attention they maybe deserved…
6. Alligators as a nuisance.
Alligator populations recovered incredibly between the 1970s and 1990s. The new market regulations were significantly more effective at deterring hunting and several efforts were made during this era to restore and preserve the natural Everglades habitat. These combined efforts led to the removal of the American Alligator from the endangered species list in 1987, though it remains protected because of its resemblance to the much more threatened American Crocodile. Today, alligator management in Florida involves significant removal of “nuisance” alligators (which must be larger than 4 feet and must be “perceived to be a threat” to humans or pets). The number of alligators removed by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has grown steadily since 1977 while number of attacks,always quite low, have remained mostly steady. Permits are issued to alligator trappers who are allowed to sell the meat and skin and share profits with the FWC, once again created a legal space for alligator hunting to take place in Florida.
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