Killing Alligators in a Wildlife Refuge?

Alligators are fierce and terrifying carnivores. They’re also fascinating animals that have been around since prehistoric times, playing a distinct and important role in the swampy ecosystems where they live.

Wildlife supporters and biologists want to keep alligators protected, which they have been as long as they’ve been on national wildlife refuges. But recently, the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge became the first refuge in the national system to allow recreational alligator hunting. Hunters are celebrating, but animal lovers are up in arms.

In fact, a Care2 member has started a petition drive to pressure the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages our federal refuges, to stop the alligator hunt. You can get more information here.

Objections to the hunt focus primarily on the cruelty of it. Hunters can stalk the gators from the safety of boats and armed with something called a “bangstick.” That’s a pole that shoots a shotgun pellet or bullet into the animal’s brain. Though the shot might immobilize the creature, it may not kill it instantly, subjecting it to inhumane pain and torture until it dies. Advocates of hunting claim that the alligator population needs to be controlled. Plus, many hunters view the dead animals as trophies, and either stuff them from head to toe, or cut off their head to mount for display.

However, animal welfare supporters note that alligators are an “umbrella” or “keystone” species in the refuge. In other words, they are at the top of the food chain and provide an important biological link, not just in Loxahatchee, but in 150,000 acres of the northern Everglades ecosystem. Plus, thousands of people come to the refuge and the Everglades every year to get a glimpse of these remarkable gators. I’ve been there myself, and I can tell you, it is truly exciting to see an alligator in the wild.

Alligators are already widely hunted outside refuges, not only to make trophies, but also for their skin, which is turned into leather for purses, shoes, belts, and boots, and meat. The animals are also being negatively affected by climate change as a substantial percentage of the freshwater habitat they depend on becomes increasingly contaminated by salt or brackish water brought on by sea level rise. Warming waters also are starting to affect the ability of alligators to reproduce. Like many other reptiles, the eggs alligators lay are very susceptible to the temperature of the water they’re laid in. As water heats up, the eggs are more likely to turn into males than females, upsetting the balance of nature that could lead to a decline in alligator populations.

The Care2 petition is hoping to collect 1,000 signatures on a petition urging the US. Fish and Wildlife Service to reverse its decision to allow alligator hunting in Loxahatchee or elsewhere. Sign the petition and share it on Facebook and Twitter to spread the word.

Want to make a change in your community? Start a petition by clicking here.

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Christine J.
Christine J1 years ago

Hmm. Must be some new definition of the word "refuge" that I haven't heard of yet.

Melania Padilla
Melania P2 years ago

Petition signed

Jane R.
Jane R3 years ago

Nature used to take care of an over abundance of earths creatures. However now since man has taken over so much of our land that no longer exists. When there are too many of one kind of animals they have to be thinned out.
If you live anywhere near water in any state you have the danger of having gators in your yard. Do you want your kids or pets eaten by one?
I don't like the killing of any animals either but sometime it has to happen for the safety of everyone.

Dawn W.
Dawnie W3 years ago

Alligators have been in the ecosystem since the dinosaurs were here and nature has a way of controlling it's self but put humans in the mix with a weapon or two and you have unbalance straight away because a percentage of humans think they are bigger, smarter and more in control than the one Great Holy Spirit. Sadly they are not and all they manage to achieve is total unbalance. Humans have made a awful mess, ruined the ecosystem by letting people keep big Burmese Pythons and then do what humans do, get sick of keeping snakes and release them into a system they are not meant to be in and now these snakes are a bigger problem than any alligator is or ever would be. Yes humans are good at stuffing up the environs and then getting out a big gun to shoot whatever moves. Hm! So clever don't you think?

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Lisbeth Alvarado Sanchez

It is so upsetting that some subhumans always try to find an excuse to torture and kill animal. They are living creatures and deserve to live peacefully in their natural habitats.

Nimue P.

Sick sob's. Petition signed. Thank you.

Nimue P.

Sick sob's. Petition signed. Thanks you.

Janis K.
Janis K3 years ago


Ruth S.
Ruth C3 years ago

All hunts should be shot on the spot!

Mike Wilkinson
Mike Wilkinson3 years ago

i'll venture that it's easier going after gators than a Burmese python or a Brazilian Anaconda ..... and I bet those snakes are eating gators and are out competing them for food prey.....hell if I were a hunter I'd go after a gator than a python or anaconda .... those snakes are dangerous adversaries.......itty bitty brains...great big guns....redneck rampage.......