06 July 2005

Kill a Croc, Face Charges

We have had an alligator swimming around in one of our local lakes since May. Local law enforcement, animal control, and everybody else has been trying to catch it, under the assumption that it is dangerous.

Yesterday, a fisherman caught and killed the thing. It was almost 4 feet long and he clubbed it to death (although he states that he only meant to render it unconscious).

There has been a hue and cry because this man killed the creature. All the local news shows have been showing people talking about how harmless it was. One guy even told the news "I've been hunting for him (with a net) for three weeks but (if it hadn't been killed) tonight was the night I was going to catch him." Personally, the thing looked big enough to mangle a hand or do some serious damage to a foot or leg; I know I'd have wanted to put it out of commission if I'd caught it while fishing.

And now they're talking about federal charges. The fisherman's already hired an attorney (David Baugh, no less) so it could get really interesting.

The lesson here? If you think you have to kill an animal because it's a danger to you and others don't own up to it.


Anonymous said...

Maybe it's because I grew up in Montana where Grizzly Bears live. Maybe it's because I once owned a seven foot long reticulated python. Maybe it's just because I grew up around a lot of animals, both domestic and wild. Whatever the case, to me a four foot long alligator doesn't sound frightening at all.

Anonymous said...

Come on Lammer - the thing weighted nine pounds. Nine pounds! The salmon I bought from the market the other day weighed more than that.

However, if the alligator is not there naturally (I didn't know alligators lived in Virginia), I don't quite see how this person could be prosecuted under the EPA. After all, wasn't it pretty far from it's natural habitat?

Ken Lammers said...

Hmmm . . . Well, a black widow tops out at 1.5" and 1 gram; as well, most of the time a bite from one only makes one ill. I'm still going to stomp one if I see it.

I suspect that if that 4', 9 lb. gator snapped onto my hand as I reached down to get the fish I hooked I'd probably have some fairly serious damage to that hand and if he just got my fingers they would probably end up pretty mangled. Sorry, I just cannot work up much sympathy for that animal or any ire against the man who eliminated it.

I don't know whether the law can actually be applied if the creature is outside of its natural habitat. I can only hope that some common sense prevails. The gator may have been harmless but you'd have to admit that those of us up here in Virginia couldn't be expected to know that. Besides, if it was so harmless why were they putting so much effort into trying to catch the thing?

Anonymous said...

From the pictures I've seen, on a four-footer the jaws would be over six inches long, and full of teeth designed to rip and tear. It's a predator after all. Nobody excuses a biting poodle because it's only nine pounds, but a gator would do a lot more damage. A Florida gator-wrestler might think this gator was no problem, but there's no reason to expect Virginians to know how to handle it safely.


Anonymous said...

Three step process:
1. Shoot
2. Bury
3. Shut up
Legal liability solved

Ken Lammers said...

Is that a process for gators or poodles?