“I have lived here for over 30 years and never seen so many alligators as we have now,” says Daphne, Alabama resident Joan Newton.
Her words come in response to the city’s official “Beware of Alligators” announcement and postings Oct 8. And by the sound of it, Joan has reason for concern.
“Please Beware of Alligators! We have seen a large number of alligators in the Jubilee City. Please use caution when visiting our bay access points and parks,” the city begins on their official Facebook Page.
Thankfully, Jubilee City is offering some sage advice to their residents in addition to a warning:
“Remember to keep your pets on a leash at all times, especially when close to any body of water. Please do not feed the alligators, as providing food may not only make alligators more aggressive and encourage them to seek out people, it may also alter their natural diet in an unhealthy way,” their post continues.
Yet local citizen Joan Newton isn’t a fan of simply letting the alligators run rampant. In her opinion, the species is “overpopulated, which is why there is now a gator season where you are allowed to kill them if you have the proper tag.“
Newton says she understands that Daphne, Alabama is within gators’ natural habitat. “But we have thousand of miles of delta that they could be ‘relocated’ to,” she offers.
And as social media dictates, an argument ensues. We’ll leave that to Facebook.
In the meantime, other Daphne residents are much keener on their scaly neighbors.
Alabama Alligators Spark Controversy for Urban Residents
“They are even at my store in parking lot but only small ones so far. I love seeing them!” comments Delana P.
Tanner M. says he’s “seen alligators all the way to Ft. Morgan. But yes we get quite a few in Daphne, especially when we get a lot of rain and it pushes a lot of fresh water into the bay. Just leave them alone and they won’t mess with you,” he adds.
Yet much of the public is sure to be asking the same question as Newton. She wants to know “Why not relocate them so we can enjoy the public access to the bay?”
Uh oh. My wildlife tech senses are tingling. While this seems an easy fix, removing alligators from their natural habitat and placing them elsewhere will disrupt not one, but two entire ecosystems. It’s not advantageous, especially in large numbers. Or, as Michelle K. replies:
“Joan… The bay is their home. Would you like to be relocated in case your neighbors don’t like you, perhaps??”
Sure, it’s not as simple as all that. People don’t eat their neighbors’ dogs. But when it comes to alligators in Alabama, it seems like urban residents need to become a lot more comfortable with their ancient cohabitants.
“They get pushed out [of their natural homes],” Charles Epler of Wildlife Solutions tells local CBS News. “That heavy, torrential rain washes them out of where they’re at, and then they’re going to try and find somewhere else to set up shop,” he says of recent weather.
To Daphne residents, Epler says to “look for signs of alligators. Look for slides, look for footprints. They’re far more scared of people than we are of them.”