For hundreds of years, hunting alligators has been a way of life for people living on the swamps of Louisiana. But with the human population increasing over the past few centuries, many species have been hunted to near extinction. American alligators themselves had a close call as recently as 50 years ago. According to “Swamp People” star Troy Landry, that’s the very reason hunting them today is bogged down in so much bureaucracy.
Alligator hunting is not something one does casually. At least, it isn’t in the Atchafalaya Basin where “Swamp People” is filmed. There are a limited number of tags provided to each licensed hunter per season. And each season hardly lasts more than 30 days.
Basically, it has to be your way of life if you want the privilege. Troy Landry talked about the circumstances that led to these limitations in a 2012 interview with The New York Post.
“My dad and my uncles, when I was growing up, would hunt alligators just for food and they were almost hunted to extinction in the late ‘60s and ’70s. They were put on the endangered species list and you couldn’t hunt them at all – none, not even for food,” Landry explained.
Alligators have also been popular over the past few hundred years for their skin. It remains highly sought after as leather for bags, boots, coats, and the like.
“In the mid ‘70s, they reopened the season, but under strict federal regulations. Anytime an animal’s placed on the endangered species list and the population comes back strong and healthy enough for them to allow a hunting season, you can believe it, it’s very closely regulated and that’s where we at today,” Landry continued in the interview.
‘Swamp People’ Star Troy Landry Explains How Regulators Decide on How Many Alligator Tags Go Out Each Year
Bringing a species back from the endangered list is an applied process. These days, there are industrial alligator farms that make up a major industry in Florida. But that doesn’t mean the wild population can go unchecked.
“Every year, [the regulators] look at it, whatever they think is surplus population, that’s how many tags they issue. They want a healthy population and having too many is not a healthy population. Just like anything else, you have to keep the numbers in check and that’s what we do,” Landry said in the 2012 New York Post interview.
Perhaps one day, the wild population of American alligators in Louisiana will be such that strict regulation becomes unnecessary. But for now, Troy Landry and his colleagues on “Swamp People” have to help the species get to that point.
“I’m doing the same thing that my family’s done forever, but much more regulated and for a different reason than they used to do it,” Landry finished.