This fall and winter, your local newspaper will probably not report the gory details of the hunting of deer, turkeys, squirrels or doves in Florida. But the hunting of alligator’s is different. Each year at the beginning of the hunting season in August, journalists write about the experiences of men and women who head out onto lakes and rivers across the state to kill alligators. Although we appreciate that the bloody truth about hunting is being told, the articles can be difficult to read. The suffering of the hunted is undeniable. Still, the hunt remains popular (this year, a record 4,492 permits were sold), a novelty for blood sport enthusiasts as well as journalists.
An article in Tuesday’s Fort Pierce Tribune was typical. Two men shot a 12-foot long alligator in the Kissimmee River with a crossbow. The arrow, which was connected to a heavy fishing line, hit the alligator “in the right side of the jaw.” For the next hour, the alligator struggled to break free. Eventually, the men were able to get close enough to throw a harpoon at the alligator, “striking it in the left side of the neck. ” The alligator was then shot with a firearm called a bang stick, and finally died when the men severed the animal’s spinal cord with a knife.
Last week, an article in the Orlando Sentinel described a similar experience. An alligator in Lake Dora was shot by a hunter using a bow and arrow. After 1 hour and 15 minutes, “The gator slowly ran out of breath at the lake bottom while bleeding from stainless-steel prongs embedded near its claws.” The alligator reappeared at the surface of the lake and was killed.
This cruel spectacle will be repeated thousands of times until the end of the hunt on November 1.
You can help
Writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper in response to an article about the alligator hunt is a great way to encourage compassion for these magnificent animals. (Click here for tips on writing letters to the editor.)