On Blaming Animal Rights Activists for Alligator Attacks
Bea, who also lives in Florida, suggested I write about Kasey Edwards, the young man who lost his arm to an alligator earlier this week.
First let me say that he’s 18-years old. That’s my biggest problem with quoting him as if he knows what he’s talking about. There’s something vaguely unfair about deconstructing what he says. Remember what came out of your mouth when you were 18-years old?
What I do feel comfortable doing is saying that drinking alcohol and "hanging out" along canals that are known to be the homes or travelways of alligators is not a good idea. Even without the alcohol it isn’t a good idea. And no one should be shocked to discover that when they go to the home or travelway of alligators, there might be alligators there. Each week there is an alligator story on the news, complete with anchor people laughing and joking after the clip of the alligator getting tied up, having her mouth duct taped, and then fighting for her life as she’s dragged onto some truck and it’s announced, much to everyone’s relief I’m sure, that the alligator was "destroyed" (for, you know, being an alligator). The alligators are vilified, all because we have pushed them and pushed them out of their homes, and then some of us are ignorant enough to actually try to feed them, thereby giving them mixed signals (sound familiar? Can you say bears?), and then when they approach people or try to catch a meal in the form of a dog (they’re predators, remember), they are killed.
Alligators can’t win.
[Edwards] blamed what he feels are the misguided efforts of animal-rights activists for allowing the Florida alligator population to mushroom in the past 10 years. With so many gators competing for limited resources, they’ve become much more aggressive, he said.
So the never-ending development of Florida has nothing to do with the problem? Animal rights activists are the problem? Going to one of the few places where alligators can be alligators without people disturbing them isn’t part of the problem? I think Edwards is right to blame people. But I think he’s pointing the finger of blame in the wrong direction.
[Edwards also] said that the real issue is the overpopulation of alligators. Florida wildlife authorities issue 3,000 permits a year for alligator hunters, he said, but animal-rights activists buy as many as two-thirds of the permits to prevent the alligators from being killed.
Edwards has his facts wrong about the animal rights activists, the number of permits, and the number of alligators killed, and it would be nice if the Today Show did a follow up to that effect. According to Florida Fish and Wildlife,
The state points out Lake Okeechobee, where Edwards was bitten, is experiencing record drought. Large gators are concentrated in canals. Casey Edwards dove in at two in the morning when gators are most active, most dangerous.
Write the Today Show and tell them that Edwards (whose name was indeed spelled with at K by one source, and a C by the other), is incorrect. He put himself in a very dangerous position, was injured, and someone else was killed because of what he did.