Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A growing trend: Standing up for alligators

In the summer of 2010, island golf course managers and staff came together for an “Alligator Behavior” class at SCCF. The thought being that golf course employees have daily contact with alligators and could be the eyes for the neighborhoods, spotting a “bad” gator before someone is hurt. There has never been a human attack by alligator on any of the island golf courses.

The Dunes golf course manager, Sean Balliet, attended with his staff looking for ways to help him deal with complaints he was receiving about the alligator population in the golf course lakes. SCCF and The Dunes hatched the plan for “Wildlife Tours” and “Alligator Awareness” classes for the golf membership and residents as a solution.

The day of the SCCF class, the crocodile — which had been released in "Ding" Darling by the State of Florida — was sighted at The Dunes, where she has been ever since. This community was going to need some help adjusting to the new arrival. Education was hopefully the answer.

At one “Alligator Behavior” class at The Dunes this winter, 35 to 1 residents supported leaving the gators and the croc in the golf course lakes. Many Dunes residents signed a petition in support of not taking gators unless they were aggressive.

Before the SCCF Wildlife Tours started this fall, twenty golf club members met with Dunes management and asked for the removal of gators from the lakes. But since education began complaints have stopped. Hearing from Dunes residents who want the gators left alone has supported the management in their recommendation: “... any member who feels fearful of alligators should attend a SCCF Wildlife Tour or education class.” The “SCCF Wildlife Tours” were a great educational success; there were waiting lists for most trips. The tours will begin again in the fall.

SCCF thanks The Dunes management for their commitment to education. Thanks to all who stand up in favor of the gators. It has been a mutually beneficial endeavor with the gators as the real winners. There would be no alligators trapped and killed on Sanibel if individuals stopped asking to have them killed. Gators are not laying in wait for us… just trying to survive in all those lakes we dug during development. Last year, there were 16 alligators trapped and killed on Sanibel, the lowest yearly take ever. by DEE SERAGE-CENTURY, SCCF Living With Wildlife Educato

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