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Subject: Florida Gator Attacks

Written By: MaxwellSmart on 05/16/06 at 12:15 am

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/16/us/16gator.html

I'm so glad I live where people can live and alligators cannot--Massachusetts. Yeah, people bellyache about the cold weather up here, the snow, the sleet, the slush, and the ice. But in Massachusetts you're not going to be jogging lakeside only to be waylaid, rolled, and drowned by some eight-foot leviathan with conical teeth. One of the three women killed by alligators in Florida over the past week was doing just that. She was jogging along the embankment only to get hauled in alive, chewed up, and dumped dead by a 'gator!

But I thought alligators didn't attack humans? Well, that was your father's alligator! Things are changing in Florida. I see 7 factors.
1. Alligator population regained stability after inclusion on endangered list in the '70s--and now they're thriving!
2. Human population of Florida has risen dramatically in the last thirty years, both full-time and seasonally. Put 2+2 together.
3. The more alligators get accustomed to humans, the less alligators fear humans.
4. Humans keep encroaching on 'gator habitat as the Florida population expands.
5. Native Floridians are more 'gator savvy than newcomers.
6. People do stupid stuff, such as feeding 'gators marshmallows and swimming in canals at night.
and finally...
7. Coincidence. Three humans killed in one week by alligators is anomalous and coincidental. Let's keep it that way.

Has there been an ecological shift in Florida rendering alligators more aggressive and humans more vulnerable to them? I don't know, but if I had to live in Florida, I wouldn't take any chances. Florida-goers I've talked to say it's fine to walk right by a gator basking on the bank. If he's basking, he's not hunting. Perhaps it's time to scratch that kind of assumption and err on the side of caution.

But maybe Floridians also have to accept a statistical possibility of getting munched. As the fellow in the NYT article says, "You can reduce the risk by being cautious, but if someone doesn't want to face the risk of an alligator attack, they should live in a state with no alligators."

Thoughts?


Subject: Re: Florida Gator Attacks

Written By: quirky_cat_girl on 05/16/06 at 7:13 am

my relatives live in Hilton Head, SC...and they have a problem with alligators there as well.  There are a lot of swampy areas near the plantation/developments. They always warn people to keep an eye on their pets, as the alligators have eaten many dogs, etc.

Subject: Re: Florida Gator Attacks

Written By: Trimac20 on 05/16/06 at 7:16 am

This is a potentially weighty issue. Overplaying the problem will give license to any old hick with a shotgun or hunting rifle to go out and hunt as any 'gators as he wants under the premise that they're 'endagering' people, when in actual fact its to make a few extra bucks, or for the sport of it. As the Carrier Pigeons and Bison have attested, NEVER overestimate the population of any animal, no matter how numerous they seem.

Except maybe ants, or moisquitos... ;D

Subject: Re: Florida Gator Attacks

Written By: karen on 05/16/06 at 7:18 am

This is a big debate on another messageboard I belong to.  Did humans have the right to shoot the alligator when he was just doing what comes naturally?  Most people said yes but some seem to be arguing for the rights of the 'gator.

Do we know if any of the victims were doing something dumb?

Subject: Re: Florida Gator Attacks

Written By: Trimac20 on 05/16/06 at 7:22 am


This is a big debate on another messageboard I belong to.  Did humans have the right to shoot the alligator when he was just doing what comes naturally?  Most people said yes but some seem to be arguing for the rights of the 'gator.

Do we know if any of the victims were doing something dumb?


It doesn't matter, humans will always win out. *shakes head*

Yes, it doesn't matter if humans were doing dumb. It seems that even if WE intrude upon their natural habitat, they are bloodthirsty monsters for doing what comes naturally. Think about beaches. 'Naturally', they're the domain of fishes and - occasionally - sharks, not the domain of us landlubber humans. But of course we can't HELP but swim, and frollick in the waves (and of course I'm not suggesting we stop doing so), but we've claimed their habitats, so the conflict will be inevitable.

Subject: Re: Florida Gator Attacks

Written By: Donnie Darko on 05/16/06 at 11:33 am


It doesn't matter, humans will always win out. *shakes head*

Yes, it doesn't matter if humans were doing dumb. It seems that even if WE intrude upon their natural habitat, they are bloodthirsty monsters for doing what comes naturally. Think about beaches. 'Naturally', they're the domain of fishes and - occasionally - sharks, not the domain of us landlubber humans. But of course we can't HELP but swim, and frollick in the waves (and of course I'm not suggesting we stop doing so), but we've claimed their habitats, so the conflict will be inevitable.


People are animals. We're just the most advanced of them.

Subject: Re: Florida Gator Attacks

Written By: Trimac20 on 05/16/06 at 11:35 am


People are animals. We're just the most advanced of them.


I guess so. We could take the atittude we're looking out for our own survival. That's if we want to precipitate an end to the very planet that gives us life.

Subject: Re: Florida Gator Attacks

Written By: Donnie Darko on 05/16/06 at 11:37 am


I guess so. We could take the atittude we're looking out for our own survival. That's if we want to precipitate an end to the very planet that gives us life.


I think it's okay to shoot the alligator, because the gun is a product of our evolution. From a scientific standpoint that is.

Subject: Re: Florida Gator Attacks

Written By: Trimac20 on 05/16/06 at 11:45 am


I think it's okay to shoot the alligator, because the gun is a product of our evolution. From a scientific standpoint that is.


That's what's is supposed to 'seperate' us from the animals. To step back and say, 'we have the power to bring death to all this life. What are the pros/cons of doing so?' It's obvious why we conserve the natural landscape, so  I think we have a moral duty to protect the environment which not only supports us, but supports life.

Subject: Re: Florida Gator Attacks

Written By: Donnie Darko on 05/16/06 at 11:46 am


That's what's is supposed to 'seperate' us from the animals. To step back and say, 'we have the power to bring death to all this life. What are the pros/cons of doing so?' It's obvious why we conserve the natural landscape, so  I think we have a moral duty to protect the environment which not only supports us, but supports life.


Yes, I agree. Since we can, we are responsible to do so.

Subject: Re: Florida Gator Attacks

Written By: Trimac20 on 05/16/06 at 11:59 am

I guess you wouldn't worry too much about gators were you live...What about Wolves and Bears?

Subject: Re: Florida Gator Attacks

Written By: Donnie Darko on 05/16/06 at 12:01 pm


I guess you wouldn't worry too much about gators were you live...What about Wolves and Bears?


I actually live in an agricultural part of Oregon ... the Willamette Valley is actually similar to Indiana, or the Central Valley of California with more rain. There are small forests in the Willamette Valley, like along the streams, but the woods are mostly in the surrounding mountains and hills.

Subject: Re: Florida Gator Attacks

Written By: Donnie Darko on 05/16/06 at 12:01 pm

But to answer your question, no wolves or bears in my area (that I know of), but we get bobcats and cougars.

Subject: Re: Florida Gator Attacks

Written By: Marian on 05/16/06 at 2:57 pm


This is a big debate on another messageboard I belong to.  Did humans have the right to shoot the alligator when he was just doing what comes naturally?  Most people said yes but some seem to be arguing for the rights of the 'gator.

Do we know if any of the victims were doing something dumb?
The  last question is a good point.I mean,do alligators really chase joggers and catch them?I saw on one of those animal cops shows about some animal control officers trying to catch the gators,to kill them,and some homeless people who lived at the water wwere warning the gastor so he could escape.

Subject: Re: Florida Gator Attacks

Written By: MaxwellSmart on 05/17/06 at 9:47 pm


The  last question is a good point.I mean,do alligators really chase joggers and catch them?I saw on one of those animal cops shows about some animal control officers trying to catch the gators,to kill them,and some homeless people who lived at the water wwere warning the gastor so he could escape.

That's the one that scared me. I have never heard of an alligator doing the predatory leap on a terrestrial human. Perhaps it goes to more people, less habitat, and less prey to go around. Crocodiles will prey on people. I've always heard 'gators only go after people by accident. In the other alligator attacks I have heard about, the person was doing something careless, if not dumb. The racket people make when they swim sounds to a 'gator like an animal in distress. So it's a case of mistaken identity. Then there are people who let their extremities dangle out of fishing boat, or something. Of course, the dumbest thing to do is to feed 'gators. Then they associate people and splashing with feeding time. I agree with those who say the 'gators will end up on the losing end again!


But to answer your question, no wolves or bears in my area (that I know of), but we get bobcats and cougars.

Wolves don't attack humans unless they're cornered or captured. Big cats and bears would prefer other prey. However, as humans move farther and farther into the bush, and overrun the habitats of big predators, such as grizzlies and mountain lions, an exurbanite may find himself lower on the food chain than he thought!
http://www.inthe00s.com/smile/10/wolfie.gif

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