We do not encourage people to break the law, but we’re impressed with Bill Warner.
In June, a trapper was dispatched to a man-made lake in the community of Sun City Center to catch an alligator (several “nuisance” alligators had previously been removed from the lake). The trapper set a line and hook, baited with a piece of cow lung. A few days later, the trapper had to redo the trap after someone cut the hook off the line. This happened at least one more time before a neighbor spotted Bill Warner in a kayak, cutting the line. The neighbor turned him in, and state wildlife officers charged Warner with criminal mischief and harassment of trappers (yes, it is a crime in Florida to “interfere with or attempt to prevent the lawful taking” of animals). Bill Warner admitted what he had done and explained his actions in a story in Friday’s St. Petersburg Times, “I’m defending the damn alligators. Simple as that.”
Bill will be in court this week. He has said that he doesn’t expect to win, and he’s not afraid of jail. (Bill is 80-years-old, by the way.)
In our experience, alligators are classified as a “nuisance” too quickly. An irrational fear of alligators leads many animals who are not genuine threats to be killed. In Florida, where development is rapidly encroaching upon alligator’s natural habitat, mere proximity to humans should not be reason to kill them. As Bill told the newspaper, “It’s like living in Africa and saying, ‘Come get the lions out of my yard.’”
We wish Bill good luck in court!