In the United States the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is managed as a renewable natural resource for both recreational and commercial harvest. The goals of most state alligator programs are to manage and conserve their alligators as part of the wetland ecosystem, provide benefits to the species, its habitat and the other species of fish and wildlife associated with alligators.
The basic philosophy of alligator managment is to develop a sustained use management program which, through regulated harvest, would provide long term benefits to the survival of the species, maintain its habitats, and provide significant economic benefits to landowners, alligator farmers and alligator hunters.
Since most coastal alligator habitats are primarily privately owned, wildlife departments provide sustained use management programs that provide direct economic benefit and incentive to private landowners, and alligator hunters/farmers who lease land, to protect the alligator and to protect, maintain, and enhance the alligator’s wetland habitats.
The alligator is one of the world’s most recognizable examples of a wildlife conservation success story. The American alligator has been used as a model for managing various crocodilian species throughout the world. Since the inception of our management program in the early 70’s, alligator populations have thrived and created millions of dollars in revenue, both recreationally and commercially.
Commercial trade in alligators is regulated through the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). While the alligator is not endangered or threatened any where in the U.S., it is listed on Appendix II of CITES due to its similarity of appearance to other endangered crocodilian species. CITES requirements are implemented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). On an annual basis the Department must provide to the USFWS a “finding of no detriment” stating that Louisiana’s harvest and export of alligators are not detrimental to the survival of the species.
Alligator management programs can be separated into three categories: wild alligator management, alligator farming/ranching program and nuisance alligator program. This three segments hold true for all states where alligators are present.
Monitoring wild alligators involves annual coastal nest surveys to index populations, calculating gator harvest quotas, executing the annual wild alligator harvest, and collecting, analyzing, and interpreting necessary data. States also provide technical assistance to landowners and hunters, ensure compliance with CITES and USFWS requirements, and conduct necessary research activities.
Commercial farming or ranching management practices include monitoring compliance with farm facility requirements, facilitating alligator egg collections, setting egg harvest quotas and issue permits, verifying account for farm inventories and harvest tags,
processing farm-raised alligators for release into wild, inspecting live alligator and alligator hide shipments, collecting analyze and interpret necessary data, providing technical assistance to landowners and farmers, and ensuring compliance with CITES and USFWS requirements.
Nuisance alligator program objectives include minimizing alligator/human conflicts, managing a statewide network of nuisance alligator hunters, receiving and process nuisance alligator complaints,
assigning complaints to nuisance hunters, ensuring hunter compliance with nuisance alligator policy, and reviewing and analyzing nuisance alligator complaints and harvest data annually.