The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is charged with managing the abundant American alligator population in the state and makes the following recommendations and suggestions when encountering them.
Perhaps the most important advice, says LDWF Alligator Program Manager Edmond Mouton, is not to feed or approach alligators.
“When alligators are fed by humans they overcome their fear and natural shyness and become attracted to humans,’’ Mouton said. “That is why it is so vital not to feed or entice them. We also strongly recommend not swimming at any time in areas frequented by alligators. Also, it is important to not allow small children to play by themselves around water bodies that may contain alligators.
“The goal of LDWF is to manage the state’s alligator population in a way so that it continues to be a conservation success story. Part of that is educating the public on alligators, including how to avoid interaction with them,” stated Mouton.
Some other do’s and don’ts when coming in contact with alligators recommended by LDWF:
Do use common sense and precautions.
Do inform others that feeding alligators creates safety problems for others who want to use the water for recreational purposes.
Don’t throw fish scraps into the water or leave them on shore. Although you are not intentionally feeding alligators the end result can be the same.
Do dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans at boat ramps or fish camps.
Do enjoy viewing and photographing wild alligators from a safe distance of at least 50 feet or more.
Don’t kill, harass, molest or attempt to move alligators. State law prohibits such actions, and the potential for being bitten or injured by a provoked alligator is high.
Don’t remove any alligators from their natural habitat or accept one as a pet. It is a violation of state law to do so. Alligators do not become tame in captivity and handling even small ones may result in bites.
In particular, never go near hatchling/young alligators or pick them up. They may seem harmless, but the mother alligator may be nearby, and may protect her young for at least two years.
LDWF also has a nuisance alligator program that can be utilized when alligators are seen adjacent to or in their native habitat and are causing a public safety hazard.
To report a nuisance alligator call 985-447-0821 or Operation Game Thief at 1-800-442-5211.
Posted on Tue, July 5, 2016
by The Lafourche Gazette