American Alligator has become a viable
resource in Louisiana’s aquaculture. The alligator is valued for its meat and
hide. The meat of the alligator is considered a delicacy, high in protein
and low in fat. The hide of the alligator is thought to be a fine and durable
leather. The leather is used for boots, briefcases, purses, shoes,
wallets, and other leather items. All of the meat of the alligator is edible,
and is sold in restaurants all throughout Florida and Louisiana.
It is recorded that the alligator was first
used commercially during the late 1800's. During the early to mid 1900's there
was no law regarding the harvesting of alligators. The absence of a regulation
led to depletion of alligator populations. In 1943, there was a major concern
over the alligator's population decline. This led to establishment of a 4 foot
minimum size limit. Despite this regulation, the decline continued. In 1954, a
statewide 6 foot minimum size limit was imposed. However, this regulation did
little to stop the alligator’s declination. In 1962, the legal harvesting of
alligators was stopped.
During the 1960's, the alligator’s
population declined still. Poaching of the alligator became widespread.
Because of a loophole in state laws, authorities were unable to shut down the
network of illegal hide distributors. Finally, in 1967, the American alligator
was placed on the Endangered Species List. In 1970, federal regulations were
implemented that effectively ended the alligator market. The populations of
alligators began to rebound. It has been suspected that perhaps the alligators
population was never as bad as originally thought, that the alligator had just
become more adept at eluding humans.
In 1977, the alligator was reclassified
from an endangered to a threatened species. This change in status allowed the
alligator to once again be available for commercial use. During the 1980's the
alligator became to be viewed as a renewable resource, and several alligator
management programs were instituted by the State of Florida. These programs
allowed for controlled hunting of the alligator by private individuals and the
collection of eggs and hatchlings by licensed alligator farms.
Alligator farming is now a thriving
business, with an estimated 30+ alligator farm. This industry generates about
150,000 tons of meat and over 15,000 skins a year. The meat averages five to
seven dollars a pound. While skin prices vary year to year, the average price
is around $25/foot. Currently, it is estimated that we are home to over
1,000,000 alligators, not counting those raised on alligator farms.
skin on the alligator's back is armored with embedded bony plates called
osteoderms or scutes. The young can be distinguished from adults because they
have bright yellow stripes on the tail; adults have dark stripes on the tail.
Large prey are dragged under water, drowned and then devoured in pieces!
Click here to view
photos of alligators.