It is hard for me to believe that this year is almost over with. What is even harder for me to believe is that next year will mark the TEN year anniversary of when my “Alliance” actually started with alligators!
Even though I didn’t officially start Alligator Alliance until January of 2015, my “Alliance” with alligators began in July of 2010. I never imagined that the course of my life would be altered forever as I stood on the side of a road in Southport, NC gazing down at an alligator (Charlie) surrounded by trash. It was the first time I’d ever seen an alligator in the wild, in its natural habitat.
While I saw incredible beauty in what I lovingly refer to as a “Swamp Dragon,” I also saw that Charlie was surrounded by a LOT of trash and litter. An idea hatched in my mind that day … the idea that I could do something to make a difference in that alligator’s life. I admit, I didn’t really know how I was going to make that happen. So, as usual, I went home and told my husband John about it. We’ve been together for a VERY long time. I’ve had numerous ideas about projects throughout the years, but he says that he knew there was something different about this subject. He saw a fire in me that he’d never seen before.
Fast forward nine plus years and looking back, it is hard for me to believe how far we’ve come. 2019 has been yet another incredible year for us. We pretty much start each year without a game plan as far as our organization is concerned. All we know is that we’ll be doing what we normally do … cleaning habitats, doing presentations, educating people about alligators and doing what we love best … spending time with alligators.
I started my own physical transformation in June of 2018, when I decided to get healthy. Being overweight made it very difficult for me to physically clean alligator habitats. I was having problems walking and I just didn’t have any energy. I set out to lose 120 pounds and I met that goal February 1st of this year. Since then I have lost an additional 30 pounds. I feel so much better and I’m able to do so much more than I ever thought I’d be able to do at my age.
Following my weight loss we decided to celebrate by taking a ten day vacation in Florida this spring. Those ten days changed my mind about the direction I want to take Alligator Alliance in. I fell in love with Florida and I am excited about what we will be doing there in the future. We ended up flying back for several four-day weekends over the summer. Thank goodness for all the cheap flights (under $100!) from Greensboro to Orlando! We have plans to do some volunteer work with alligators in Florida next year. Florida is looking more and more like home to us. We love the fact that it’s warm all year round and there are so many alligators there!
After we got home from Florida we were pleasantly surprised when we were contacted by filmmaker Caleb Childers of Malachi Films who was working on a documentary about alligators in NC. He was interested in how we felt about NC’s first alligator hunting season that took place in 2018 (our first one since 1973). He was also interested in what we do and how my fascination and love for alligators all came about.
We immediately agreed to participate in the documentary. I made a brief statement about it in my April Blog, but I didn’t want to say too much about it until after we did the initial filming. We had hoped to do it in May, but Caleb was working on finishing up another documentary in Peru. Then Caleb and his wife celebrated the arrival of their second child in August. Finally, our schedules aligned and in October we were able to spend a few days at Orton Pond, filming with Caleb’s associate Brent Clark.
We had a great time and we were thrilled that our favorite alligator Beau decided to show up and participate along with us! We are looking forward to filming some more and completing our interview process for the documentary. We’d like to thank Caleb Childers, Malachi Films and Brent Clark for giving us this opportunity. We are beyond grateful and can’t wait to see the finished product!
Anticipating the documentary was certainly one of the highlights of our year, but we had a LOT of other things going on as well. We operate Alligator Alliance out of Brunswick County, NC. Normally we spend most of our time in and around Oak Island, Southport, Boiling Spring Lakes, Winnabow and Leland. This summer we had the opportunity to house sit for a good friend of ours who lives at Ocean Isle while she was in Georgia caring for her mother who was recuperating from a very serious surgery.
This worked out great for us because we started remodeling our own house in May. When the mess got too much for me at home, I could jump in the car every week and escape to Ocean Isle. We love the area and we found so many new alligator habitats! Between remodeling at home, looking after our friend’s house and yard at Ocean Isle, finding new alligator habitats, visiting (and cleaning) old ones, making several trips to Florida, doing three presentations this fall AND filming the documentary, we have had our busiest year to date.
One of the questions I am most often asked is … “What’s next for Alligator Alliance?” Honestly, I don’t quite know how to answer that question. We are so grateful to have made the front cover of North Brunswick Magazine (July 2018) and have a features article written about us in Carolina Country Magazine (July 2018). We are also thankful for the newspaper articles that have appeared in the State Port Pilot and the Brunswick Beacon over the years.
We are humbled by all of the e-mails and the outpouring of support that we continue to get from total strangers. We are thankful to all of you who took time out of your busy schedules to show up at our recent presentations. We had a wonderful time at the NC Reptile & Exotic Animal Show presented by Repticon in Raleigh in November (thanks guys!) We love meeting people in person who share our love for alligators.
But, at the end of the day, I don’t measure our success by how many magazines and newspapers we appear in, or how many interviews we do. Don’t get me wrong, the exposure these people have given us has helped us in so many ways and we are forever grateful! What we do isn’t glamorous. It’s not even that exciting. We don’t get paid for it. Alligator Alliance is 100% self-funded and non-profit. We do what we do because we LOVE alligators!
So, what’s next for Alligator Alliance? We’ll be doing what we’ve been doing for the past nine plus years: cleaning alligator habitats, fighting to conserve our alligator population, advocating for our “Swamp Dragons,” educating the public on these marvelous creatures (who more often than not get a bad rap) and going to wildlife meetings. And, most importantly, DOING WHAT WE LOVE and LOVING WHAT WE DO!
Starting in January we will be revamping and redesigning our entire website. We are excited to roll out a new, interactive feature that will enable us to communicate on a more personal level with those of you who visit our website on a regular basis. I have also made the decision to no longer write Blogs. I just simply do not have the time. We will add current information and upcoming presentations on our Home page. I am also excited to share my second children’s book with you this spring!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
We have been busy with Alligator Alliance since 2010 and we recently realized that we haven’t taken a vacation in a VERY long time! When we sat down and started to discuss what we wanted to do, of course Florida was at the top of my list!
In the weeks leading up to our ten day vacation, my Dad kept asking “Do you really want to go to Florida?!” I always answered “YES! What’s not to love about Florida?! They have more alligators than they do people!” He quickly figured out that he wasn’t going to be able to talk me out of going.
Ten days may sound like a long time, but there is a LOT to do in Florida! My husband and I sat down and made a list of the things we each wanted to do. My list consisted mostly of things relating to alligators and shopping LOL. Alligators are my first love and I do a LOT of shopping for clothes now that I’ve lost 140 pounds!
When we combined our lists and started making concrete plans, I contacted Gatorland in Orlando to see if they had anything special they could offer us. I told them about Alligator Alliance and what we do. They e-mailed us back almost immediately and invited us to do the Trainer-For-A-Day experience. We accepted their invitation!
We were allowed inside the park two hours before Gatorland opened to the public. Peter met us and immediately wanted to know all about Alligator Alliance. He has been an employee for several years and we instantly hit it off. The very first thing we got to do was hold two new hatchlings. It was love at first sight for me! I’ve been to Alligator Adventure before and have held a juvenile, but this was my first time holding a hatchling.
As we made our way into the park, Peter introduced us to a beautiful albino Burmese python. I love all wildlife, but I admit, I continue to struggle with snakes. With that being said, I couldn’t deny the beauty of this reptile! I didn’t want to hold it, but I did touch it and have my picture made with it. I am also not a big fan of spiders, but Peter even convinced me to hold a Tarantula! The snake and the spider weren’t the highlight of our visit, but it was still interesting.
When I first looked at Gatorland’s website, I was thrilled to find out that they have not one, but TWO Leucistic alligators! I LOVE Leucistic alligators and was looking forward to seeing them in person for the first time. Leucistic alligators are extremely rare. In fact, there are only twelve known to exist in the world! The two at Gatorland are brothers FERRIS ZOMBIE and TREZO JE. Leucism (the partial loss of pigmentation) results in an animal with primarily white skin and (with reptiles) eyes that are almost always blue. Leucistic alligators tend to be confused with albino alligators, but Leucism is extraordinarily rare. One way to recognize a Leucistic alligator is not only their blue eyes, but they have a few black spots on their otherwise completely white body. It was a dream come true for me to meet Ferris Zombie and his brother Trezo Je! Check out Trezo Je on our YouTube channel!
We got to go into the Gator Wrestling Arena and met a 6 foot female alligator by the name of Elsa. I always thought if I saw an alligator in the road that I could rescue it by pulling it out of harm’s way by its tail. Well, I got that opportunity with Elsa. I quickly found out that it’s definitely not as easy as it looks. With Peter by my side coaching me, I got hold of Elsa’s tail and stood straight up and attempted to pull her backwards through the sand pit. She didn’t budge. Peter told me to lean back and put all my weight into it as I held onto her tail. That didn’t work either. In fact, Elsa started walking me around as I held onto her tail! It showed me exactly how strong an alligator is.
Then it was time for me to jump on Elsa’s back. That wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be either LOL (you can see me doing this on our YouTube channel)! After a few attempts, I finally did it. Elsa wasn’t too happy about me being on her back. She rose up and started to walk off with me sitting on her back. Again, Peter came to my rescue and helped me get her under control. I was so excited just to be touching an alligator, which isn’t something we typically get to do in Alligator Alliance. Even though Elsa was only 6 feet long, I could feel just how strong she was. I could feel her breathing. Her tail continued sweeping from left to right as I sat on her. If I had been standing by her tail, she could’ve easily knocked my feet out from under me.
I have a long “bucket list” (things I want to do before I kick the bucket) and the majority of that list pertains to alligators. One of the things on my bucket list was to kiss an alligator and I got the opportunity to kiss Elsa. I don’t know how much she liked it, but I KISSED A GATOR AND I LIKED IT (remember that Katy Perry song “I Kissed A Girl & I Liked It” LOL). Peter showed me some of the ways to “wrestle” a gator. Then it was my husband’s turn. He was a lot more successful at handling Elsa than I was. He looked like a pro pulling her around by the tail and jumping on her back! When we were working with Elsa, her mouth was safely taped shut. After we were done, Peter removed the tape and showed us his moves. He did it ALL without her mouth being taped and he made it look so easy!
We enjoyed every moment of our ten day Florida vacation, but Gatorland was definitely the highlight of it all! While we were with Peter we found three alligator teeth in various habitats! I plan to have them made into a necklace in the near future. After we were done with the behind-the-scenes tour the gift shop was open. I was like a kid in a candy store with all of the alligator merchandise! Holli and Tina were very helpful as we shopped! Holli even helped us box up our items and carry them to our SUV! We didn’t want to leave Gatorland! The entire experience was absolutely amazing. We want to personally thank Peter and the staff of Gatorland for giving us this amazing opportunity!
We took our custom made extended grabbers with us to Florida and had planned on cleaning some alligator habitats if we saw the need. One thing we quickly noticed was there is barely ANY trash in Florida! We learned that Florida doesn’t give anyone a pass for feeding alligators (you can spend up to 60 days in jail)! Every habitat that we saw looked pristine. We were thrilled to drive by habitats and see alligators basking in ponds that weren’t surrounded by trash!
Another activity on my bucket list was to ride in an airboat. We headed to Wild Florida to do that! We took an hour-long airboat ride and it was a lot of fun! We got to see some huge alligators and several hatchlings.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Orlando without going to some of the amusement parks. This time last year I would have never dreamed I’d be physically able to do that. When I first heard about the new Avatar-themed rides opening at Animal Kingdom, I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to experience them first hand. I am a huge Avatar fan. Losing 140 pounds has given me a new lease on life! We went to Universal Studios, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Sea World. We had so much fun and rode ALL of the roller coasters! My favorite roller coasters were the Mako and the Manta, both at Sea World (I rode them both five times). My least favorite was the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket at Universal Studios. I vowed to never ride it again if I made it off LOL!
Now that we are no longer looking for acreage in Brunswick County (NC), I have been longing to look for property in Florida! We operate our organization out of Brunswick County and we will ALWAYS consider it to be our home. But, it doesn’t stay warm year round in NC and we typically only get to see alligators March-October. In Florida the warmer climate would allow us to see them year round. So, we have begun the process of looking for property in Florida, away from the hustle and bustle that is Orlando.
Below we’d like to share some of our vacation photos with you in a slide show. We also took some amazing videos and we will post them on our YouTube channel. We hope you’ll enjoy the photos and the videos as much as we do!
One more thing we’d like to share with you all is, in early March we were contacted by a film maker and producer from Wilmington (NC) who invited us to participate in a documentary about alligators. We have agreed to be in the documentary and will start filming in the near future. That’s about all we can share with you at this time. We are extremely excited about the exposure Alligator Alliance will get by being in this documentary. We will tell you more later on in the summer.
Until then, enjoy the warmer weather and remember, ANY body of water in the Eastern part of our state (NC) has the potential to have an alligator in it. This is the time of year that alligators are on the move … looking for food, mates and new habitats. PLEASE keep your distance from them if you see one! Keep your children and pets away from them. Alligators can be extremely dangerous, especially when they are fed by humans. Please don’t feed alligators or ANY wildlife. They are very capable of taking care of their selves and have done so for centuries!
In the meantime, I’ll be on GATOR PATROL!
Wild Florida - Kenansville, FL
I have had weight issues my entire life. I have lost a LOT of weight before (many times) and I’ve gained it back (many times). For some of you who have known me for a long time (before Alligator Alliance), you all know that I’ve been on The Oprah Show three times. For those of you who only know me through Alligator Alliance, I’ll give you a brief history. I lost weight in 1994 and I was on The Oprah Show in January of 1995 and May of 1995. My third appearance on The Oprah Show was in May of 2010.
Weight has always been a struggle for me and I imagine it will always BE a struggle for me. When I saw my first alligator in July of 2010 and decided I was going to start cleaning their habitats, I didn’t realize how hard it would be for me to do at my size. But, I still did it. As the years rolled by and I got older, it became even more difficult for me.
Two things helped me to make the decision to do something about it. Our friend Chad Griffin (owner of CCSB Reptile Rescue and Rehab Center in Kernersville, NC) teaches an alligator handling certification class. I have wanted to take that class for YEARS, but I knew I couldn’t physically do it. There was no way at my size that I could jump on and off of an alligator’s back. Chad has been such a good friend to us over the years and he understood my dilemma. He even offered to do a private class just for me and my husband, but even with that offer, I knew I couldn’t physically do it.
I told my cousin Karen how much I wanted to be certified in alligator handling and how I was just too big to do it. She encouraged me to take control of my weight. I remember her exact words. “We’ll see how badly you want the Gator Life.” That statement stuck with me. Karen made that statement a while ago, but I didn’t start my diet until last June. It took me a while to get started, but on Friday, June 20th of last year, I woke up and thought THIS IS THE DAY!
My husband had lost 100+ pounds over the past few years by eating low carb and high protein. He made it look so easy, so I decided that would be the plan for me. The first three weeks were hard. I’ve never been much of a meat eater, so I struggled with eating a lot of protein. I love potatoes, bread, pasta, desserts and sweet tea (all the bad stuff). The biggest challenge I had was giving up sweet tea. But, after the first week, it got a little easier. The weight started to fall off. I lost 8 pounds the first week and that motivated me to keep at it.
Eating low carb and high protein for me is so easy now that I don’t consider it a diet. I consider it a way of life. I set small goals for myself and kept moving forward. Not many people knew that I was trying to lose weight. I didn’t want the added pressure of people asking me how much I’d lost and what I was doing. It took a few months before anyone really noticed my weight loss. One thing that helped was that I kept wearing my baggy clothes (size 3XL Capri pants) all summer long, up until October when I bought my first pair of jeans in 11 years. The first time I wore them, people were shocked.
My goal was to lose 120 pounds and I met it on February 1st! Below you will see some “before” and “after” pictures of me. The “before” picture was taken on March 28th 2018 when we did our photo shoot for the North Brunswick Magazine article. The “after” picture was taken last week (February 5th).
We spent several days last week at Oak Island and we were able to clean some alligator habitats. It is so much easier for me now that I’ve lost weight. I can walk further and do things that I couldn’t do before. At my age losing weight isn’t just about looking better. It’s about feeling better and being healthy. I want to be able to look after my Dad as he ages. A neighbor of ours (Lynn) told me shortly after my Mom died in 2014 that I have to look after myself before I can look after anyone else. How right she was.
Now I can take the alligator handling certification class this spring, which has been a dream of mine for so many years! I want to thank Chad Griffin for being so patient with me! I can’t tell you how many times we scheduled the class and then I’d cancel it, because I knew I couldn’t fully participate.
I want to give a BIG thank you to my cousin Karen for challenging me to lose weight so I can live the “Gator Life.” Her statement “We’ll see how badly you want the Gator Life” really lit a fire under me. Karen also did a lot of research and helped me figure out different sources of protein besides meat.
Very few of my friends and relatives even knew that I was attempting to lose weight. My husband made sure not to post any photos of me on our website after June of last year, so I could keep the “secret.” I want to thank the following people for their constant support and encouragement … Karen, Sandra, Kelly, Kim, Shelly, Terri, Taylor, Susan and Angela. Your texts and e-mails kept me motivated! Many, many thanks to my Dad (Gary) and my husband (John) who have had to deal with me on a daily basis. My Dad is an amazing cook and it has been extremely hard not to eat his home cooked meals since last June!
My size may have changed, but some things NEVER change. My love for alligators and my commitment to conserving them will always be my top priority. Alligator Alliance is my fulltime job! Now I am able to work harder than ever at protecting them and keeping their habitats clean. I am looking forward to what 2019 has in store for me as I fully live the GATOR LIFE!
After Labor Day (and tourist season) is over with, we start doing a final clean-up of all of our alligator habitats. We also try to do a final sweep of the roads we have adopted through the NC Adopt-A-Highway program in Brunswick County. Many of the alligators and habitats that we keep a check on are on private property. We continue to be grateful to the owners that give us permission to come and view these alligators.
Quinn is an alligator that I have been watching since May of 2013. When I first saw her, she was a sub-adult and appeared to be around 3-4 feet long. She lives in a beautiful, pristine marsh habitat. I am extremely happy to say that she is a wild alligator and not a “food conditioned” (illegally fed by humans) alligator.
When we checked on her last week we didn’t see her at first. As we stood there with our binoculars, I heard a familiar sound. A sound I love just about more than any other sound in this world! A baby alligator chirping and calling its mom! When we heard the chirp we both froze. Within just a few moments, we saw Quinn speeding towards us through the water. We knew that she had heard her baby calling her. We immediately backed up and gave her some space. We didn’t see any babies and we decided to leave so as not to cause her any stress.
The next afternoon we went back to see Quinn again, hoping to see a hatchling. When we got there we saw Quinn basking in the water at the edge of her habitat. And right beside of her we saw several hatchlings! They were tiny and probably only 2-3 weeks old. We continued to observe her and more hatchlings swam up to Quinn. We counted 9 altogether! They climbed on her back and on her snout. Some of them seemed to be attempting to bite her on the eyelid and scutes.
We were able to take several photos and a video. I have been observing alligators for over 8 years now and there has only been 4 times that I have seen hatchlings. I feel confident that this is Quinn’s first clutch. All 9 of the hatchlings were chirping and it was a glorious sound. Being able to see Quinn with her hatchlings and seeing her as a first time mom is at the top of my list of my wildlife encounters. I didn’t want to leave the habitat, but I also didn’t want to disturb them. We are looking forward to seeing these hatchlings grow up!
We are very thankful that we got to experience this. It makes all the hard work, the sweat, the no-see-um bites and everything else we do worth it! I have swamp water running through my veins and a love for alligators, both big and small.
To see more photos of Quinn & her hatchlings go to
Meet The Gators
Alligator Alliance has been against alligator hunting in NC from day one. We have worked tirelessly to prevent a season from happening. We’ve attended numerous public meetings, as well as a few private ones. At the public meetings we stood up and spoke about why we didn’t want a hunting season (we actually spoke until they told us to sit down and give someone else a turn, LOL). We have also made phone calls, sent e-mails and directed others to the NCWRC’s website so that they too could speak out against alligator hunting.
The last time NC had an alligator hunting season was in 1973. Guess why the hunting season was cancelled after 1973? Because NC alligators were eradicated. Want to know what the definition of “eradicate” is? TO REMOVE OR UTTERLY DESTROY. It has taken over four decades for our alligator population to recover.
We operate Alligator Alliance out of Brunswick County. That is where the alligators live that we are the most familiar with. The habitats that we clean are in Brunswick County. Although we never wanted a hunting season to pass in NC, we were relieved to find out that the only county in NC that hunting will be allowed is in Hyde County. A computerized drawing (like a lottery) will award 5 permits in Swan Quarter, 5 permits in Fairfield and 10 permits in Engelhard. The permits will be valid from September 1st - October 1st in the designated areas around these communities only. Currently there are more than 400 applicants for 20 permits. Applicants who are drawn will be required to obtain an alligator hunting license by August 20th. Those who fail to purchase the license by the deadline will forfeit their chance to get a permit and an alternate applicant will be drawn. An alligator hunting license costs $250 for NC residents and $500 for non-residents. The cost for the permit will then be $8. Applicants must be 16 years or older.
Brunswick County is off the hook for 2018, but that doesn’t mean our work at Alligator Alliance is done. We are just getting started. There is no size limit or sex restrictions for the alligators that will be killed in Hyde County. If all females are killed, this will wreak havoc on their alligator population for decades to come. Without female alligators, the species will cease to exist in the future.
Male alligators in NC are thought to take 14-16 years to reach sexual maturity, while females require 18-19 years. This is longer than the amount of time required for alligators from more Southern locales. This information was taken directly from the
“NC Alligator Management Plan,” so the NCWRC is fully aware of what problems an unspecified hunting season can cause for our state.
Please help us continue to fight to keep our alligator population from going extinct. We will always post upcoming meetings on our website, so please check back often.
We are so thankful for the cover story on Alligator Alliance that North Brunswick Magazine did, as well as the features article Carolina Country Magazine did! Both magazines did an amazing job explaining what Alligator Alliance is all about.
From July 1st - July 31st our website had over 70,000 NEW visitors! We also received thousands of e-mails from people who read those articles.
Thank you so much for the outpouring of support that we have received. We’ve had so many kind offers from people willing to donate money and even one particular person wanting to donate a drone to further our research. We’ve also had numerous requests for us to set up a Go-Fund-Me account so that people could make contributions. And most surprisingly of all, we had one very nice lady offer us a guestroom and bathroom in her house ANY TIME we wanted to use it (thanks Sally)! We have been completely blown away by the generosity of strangers!
We are sorry we weren’t able to answer each and every e-mail that we received. We tried, but as soon as we answered them, our inbox would fill up again. One thing we’ve found out is that we’re not alone in our love for alligators! That makes us extremely happy!
We also had numerous requests to join our organization. We knew from day one that Alligator Alliance would never be a member driven organization. It will always have only two human members, my husband and myself. The true members of our organization are the alligators that we work so hard to protect. Our true “Alliance” is with them. That is also why we keep the location of nearly all of our alligator habitats private. We take special care in posting pictures of them that won’t show surroundings where people can guess where they are.
We’ve also had several people offer to volunteer to work with us. Alligator Alliance is a two-person team, mainly because what we do is sometimes dangerous. We clean alligator habitats. We use long, custom-made grabbers to clean habitats with, but we still have to be extremely careful and mindful of what we’re doing. We can’t just tell the alligators to run an errand while we clean their house, LOL. Several of our alligator habitats are on private property. We have agreements with the property owners not to tell anyone about the alligators. However, two good places to contact to ask if there are volunteer opportunities are The NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, as well as Alligator Adventure at Myrtle Beach. Both places do amazing work with captive alligators.
From day one Alligator Alliance has been 100% self-funded and non-profit. We do what
we do because we love alligators! We have never accepted a donation. That’s why we have declined to set up a Go-Fund-Me account, even though we’ve been asked about it numerous times. Don’t get me wrong. Donations and Go-Fund-Me accounts are great. We’ve always had the opinion (where Alligator Alliance is concerned) that money sometimes muddies the waters and changes the focus of what we’re trying to accomplish. That’s not to say that we may change our minds in the future.
I do want to take this opportunity to share with you three of the most frequently asked questions that I hear!
#1) Do you watch or like the TV series “Swamp People?”
Well, let’s see, they hunt and kill alligators in every single episode, so that would be a strong NO!!!
#2) Do you eat alligator meat?
WHAT?! NO! I never have and I never will! I love alligators from the tips of their snouts to the tips of their tails.
#3) Are you afraid of alligators?
No. I do however have a healthy respect for them. I don’t feed them or harass them. I let them exist as the wild creatures they were intended to be. Even though I name each and every one of the alligators who stay in their same habitats year after year, they are not my pets. Even though I talk to them, laugh at them, spend countless hours with them (Beau) and even tell them that I love them … I know that they are apex predators and opportunistic feeders. I am extremely careful around them. I keep a safe distance. I listen to them. If they hiss at me, I know that’s a warning that I’m too close and I get even further away. A few of our alligators have nests and hatchlings. I am especially careful when I’m around them. There is nothing more protective and ferocious than a mother alligator!
I wish Alligator Alliance could save every alligator in NC. I wish we could prevent people from illegally feeding them and then throwing their trash at them. I wish we could avoid a hunting season forever. I wish every alligator could stay in its habitat, it’s HOME and never have to be relocated. Sometimes I know there is no other option for a food conditioned alligator and that it has to be relocated. I don’t like it, but it is what it is.
When I first started Alligator Alliance, I often used the phrase “Alligators Are My Passion.” I’ve seen and heard the “passion phrase” practically everywhere for the past few years and I feel that it is extremely over-used. Therefore we have removed it from our website. Alligators and their habitats have become more like an obsession with me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I feel very blessed to live in a state where we can observe alligators in their natural habitats, not just in a zoo or an aquarium. Please don’t take this blessing for granted. Speak out against hunting alligators in NC.
I will leave you with this … ONE person CAN make a difference!
It is official. NC will have its first alligator hunting season since 1973 starting September 1st - October 1st 2018. We are very disappointed and saddened by this fact. We have worked diligently to avoid this for the past 4 years. We aren’t surprised. In fact, we’ve known about it for a few months.
The e-mails have started to flood our in-box with people asking what the public can do to stop this from happening. I’m afraid the time to “stop this” has already passed my friends. We have attended every meeting, both public and private, to address this issue for the past 4 years to no avail. At many of the meetings we’ve attended there were less than 20 people in attendance. Of those 20, for the most part, we were the only ones there who showed up to protest hunting alligators. We wrote numerous letters to local papers advising the public what needed to be done in order to stop this. We also posted detailed meeting dates and times on our website and begged the public to help us with this.
You can read all about the “Changes in Regulations for 2018-2019” at the following link on the NCWRC’s website:
Just click on the link and scroll down to section H6 Alligators.
If you oppose the hunting season, continue to scroll down to the bottom of the page and leave a comment.
You can e-mail the NCWRC at:
You can call ALLEN BOYNTON (in charge of The NC Alligator Task Force) or you can e-mail him:
We can’t guarantee you that it will do any good, but you know what they say … the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
We will continue to oppose killing our last living dinosaurs. We will continue to attempt to educate the public about how to co-exist with these marvels of nature. We will continue to clean alligator habitats. We will continue to ask the NC Wildlife to ticket the people who are illegally feeding our alligators (which causes us to have to clean their habitats).
In our opinion an alligator hunting season for NC is a huge mistake. We don’t think it will last for long, but we do think immense damage to our alligator population will be done. The NCWRC admits that it takes females 18-19 years to reach sexual maturity. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that unless there is a size restriction on alligators that can be harvested, there is the chance that too many females will be killed and then we won’t have any alligators for years (possibly decades) to come.
We haven’t had an alligator hunting season in NC since 1973. Want to know why it was stopped in 1973? Because they were ERADICATED. Want to know the meaning of the word “eradicate?” ELIMINATED. UTTERLY DESTROYED.
I will be honest with you. I (Lisa) have been so upset about this that I’ve had thoughts about ending Alligator Alliance. My husband and I have worked so hard on this little organization of ours. If you’ve read any of our blogs or met us and talked to us, you know we only have 2 “human” members. Our Alliance is with the alligators. We are 100% self-funded and non-profit. We don’t get paid for anything that we do. We pay out of our own pockets for the brochures and wrist bands that we hand out for free. We don’t charge for the presentations that we do to educate people on how to co-exist with alligators.
I once read an online comment that someone had written about me (and Alligator Alliance). It read something like this … “Lisa has been coming to Brunswick County (Oak Island) since the 1960’s (which means every year for a week-long vacation) and now she wants to save the alligators.” Part of that comment is true. I have been coming to Long Beach (now Oak Island) since the mid-1960’s. I fell in love with Brunswick County 50+ years ago.
No, we don’t live in Brunswick County (we’re currently looking for a 5 acre minimum tract of land), but during the warmer months (March - October), there is rarely a 2 week period that goes by when we’re not there. I’m not lounging around on the beach drinking umbrella drinks during my “vacations.” I’m working. I’m picking up trash on the roads we’ve adopted through the NC Adopt-A-Highway program. I’m cleaning alligator habitats, talking to the public about them, handing out brochures and wrist bands, driving all over Brunswick County each day to visit alligators and find new ones. And, most of all, I’m enjoying seeing them in their natural habitats.
One more thing, I had planned on writing a children’s book about alligators and creating an alligator coloring book over the winter. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do those things. There was a death in our family. I lost someone on December 29th that I loved very much and these past few weeks have been a struggle for me to say the least. We still have plans to create a coloring book that we’ll hand out for free. I still have plans to write a children’s book. I already have a working title and the outline of the book in place, so stay tuned.
Thanks again for your continued interest and support. We hope you’ll take the time to voice your complaints about the alligator hunting season to the NCWRC. Remember, when the going gets tough, the tough hit the swamp!
However, approval of the plan DID NOT establish an
alligator hunting season in the state.
Over the past few years we’ve been hearing rumblings about an alligator hunting season in NC. We are and always will be against hunting and killing our alligators. We have attended numerous public and private meetings over the past couple of years. We’ve listened to other’s opinions and we’ve spoken out about how we feel.
We appreciate all the hard work Allen Boynton has put into the ATF (Alligator Task Force). There still seems to be a LOT of uncertainties about how to go about having a legitimate hunting season each year or if we even need one. We applaud the NCWRC for not just rushing in and giving out tags to whoever wants to kill an alligator.
You can read more about it on the NCWRC’s website:
You can also read the entire 43 page NC Alligator Management Plan:
Once again, we (Alligator Alliance) are proud to be listed on page 32, as being one of eight organizations that are in opposition to opening an alligator hunting season.
There will be nine public hearings in January 2018 for public comments. It will include a proposal for an alligator hunting season. Rest assured, Alligator Alliance will be there! Even if a hunting season is passed in the future, we won’t give up. We will continue to fight. Our mission to protect the alligators will not change. Our alliance WITH the alligators will not change. Alligators will still be our passion. We will still be cleaning habitats. We will still be talking to people and educating the public on these marvels of nature. We continue to ask for other alligator lovers and wildlife enthusiasts to help us help them!
Remember, ONE person CAN make a difference!
We just want to take a few minutes and talk about the NCWRC Habitat, Nongame and Endangered Species committee meeting from 2:00-3:00pm held December 7th, 2016. The purpose of the meeting was to update the committee about the Alligator Management Plan public forums held November 1st, 2nd & 3rd and to give an update about the task force.
First, we want to say that we were disappointed to hear some of the comments that were made during the meeting…
Despite those few comments, we would like to commend Allen Boynton and Director Gordon Myers for the presentation and specifically how they handled comments such as those. It is our hope that the Alligator Task Force remains focused on what the Director tasks them with doing and that includes all the criteria for the management plan listed below. Not just the number of permits that can be issued.
The first line says “alligators in North Carolina.” There was a lot of talk about using South Carolina data to determine our biological information. We know South Carolina is not that far away and has similar habitats, but there still remains a huge difference. The point is that we DO NOT know. “Identification of knowledge gaps and additional research needed” is the second line of those tasks. We can’t possibly know how to manage OUR population without real data of OUR state. According to a study done by and published in 2014,
KYLEE DUNHAM - Framingham State University
STEVE DINKELACKER - Framingham State University
JEFF MILLER - Missoula College of the University of Montana
“Very little is known about the population dynamics of American Alligators in northern latitudes.”
“To better deﬁne the characteristics of the northern population, we combined published life-history and vital rate data for studies conducted in North Carolina and South Carolina.”
“Two priorities result from modeling these scenarios:
1) A long-term monitoring program is needed to acquire the life-history and vital rate data on the northern population.
2) Current alligator habitat must be conserved or improved to insulate the species from potential drought associated with climate change.”
We feel that some of the commissioners appear to not be interested in public opinion, or at least not all public opinion. Some of the commissioners seem content with using other state’s data to determine our plan. That, in our opinion, is not acceptable.
Another statement made was that “Studies show that taking the larger alligators increases the population.” Here is a direct quote from the study done in 2014. This was taken from the section on Management Implications of that study.
“To compound management issues associated with the missing population data, the northern alligator populations may be subjected to harvest, as occurs in the southern portion of the range. Because regulations and hunters routinely target the largest alligators (Chastain and Irwin 2008, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources 2012), sport hunting decreases survivorship and transition rates for the subadult stage and survivorship in adult stage below the values used in our analyses. These stage classes were the most sensitive and elastic in our analyses and they had the highest reproductive values. Wildlife management agencies that conduct sport harvests should invest the resources necessary to generate state-speciﬁc population viability analyses to assess sustainability of populations being harvested, especially when facing the predicted effects of climate change. Without data on survivorship, reproduction and growth in the context of population size, alligator populations will be placed in a precarious position through increased adult and subadult mortality.”
We hope that the NCWRC and the Alligator Task Force will NOT develop a management plan based on pressure from those who are pushing for a hunting season using data from other states or those who can ask questions such as “Do we really need alligators? How are they useful?”
If you oppose a hunting season for alligators in NC or have a good suggestion about management plans, please contact the North Carolina Resources Commission –
Wildlife Diversity Program Coordinator
John & Lisa McNeill
We watched, along with everyone else, the horror that unfolded at the Grand Floridian & Seven Seas Lagoon this past week. Our hearts go out to the parents of Lane Graves, who was taken by an alligator and drowned.
It is very easy to look back on something that has happened (the phrase “20/20 hindsight” comes to mind) and say what should have and could have been done. Obviously, we all wish that what happened could be undone. While it can’t be undone, maybe we can prevent it from happening again.
We have followed the Lane Graves story all week and from the beginning we suspected that guests and tourists had been feeding the alligators that reside in the lagoon at the Grand Floridian. The following statement came from the June 19th edition of the Orlando Sentinel: One employee at the Disney property who did not want to be identified said in an e-mail “there is such a problem on the property with guests feeding the alligators
thinking it’s cool.”
Our alligator population is NOTHING like the population Florida deals with, but we do have one thing in common with them. Their alligators are illegally fed by humans and so are ours. That is the biggest issue we deal with. When we are out cleaning alligator habitats, we’re not cleaning up after the alligators. We’re cleaning up after the people who have fed them. I can’t tell you how many yellow Styrofoam trays that raw chicken comes in that we pick up that have teeth marks on them. After people feed the gators the raw chicken, they often throw down the yellow Styrofoam trays and the gators smell the chicken juice and then try to eat that as well.
We are not the police and we are not the wildlife. We don’t have the authority to write tickets or tell people what to do. We point out signs that say it is illegal to feed them. We tell them there could be a $500 fine. We try to encourage people not to feed them and tell them why. Why? Because after being fed ONLY ONE TIME, an alligator is smart enough to associate a human with food every single time it sees one.
Here is something we CAN do in NC to prevent a tragedy like what happened in Florida last week from happening. Do NOT feed the alligators. If you see someone doing it, take a video, then snap a picture of their license tag and report them to the NC Wildlife
(800-662-7137). Be very respectful of ALL wildlife and keep a safe distance from alligators. They are beautiful creatures and we are lucky we are able to observe them in their natural habitats. However, we all have to use common sense and be especially vigilant with our children and pets when we are near ANY body of water during the warmer months. Please remember, ANY body of water has the potential to have an alligator in it. Just because there may not be an alligator there one day, doesn’t mean there won’t be one there the very next time you look!
Something else we want to make a comment about is the fact that we “name” all of the alligators we come in contact with. We do love these alligators. This is more than a hobby to us. It is a mission. It is our passion. Some of the alligators that you see on our website are ones we saw one time and never saw again. Some are our favorites … the ones we see over and over again, year after year, in their same habitats … their HOMES. We name them so we can document certain facts. Such as location, dates, time, temperature and even injuries the alligator may have gotten since the last season. And yes, we feel as if we know these alligators. We have spent countless hours with them - taking photos, taking videos, cleaning up after the people who have illegally fed them and thrown trash at them. But make no mistake … these alligators are NOT our pets. They are wild creatures. They aren’t in a zoo. There is no fence keeping us from them, or them from us. Please keep yourselves safe, your children safe and your pets safe. And please keep our natural resources safe which includes our alligator population.
Video Courtesy of Ray J. Walter, Ph.D.
On Tuesday April 19th Alligator Alliance lost one of our favorite alligators.
Crunch & Munch was in a retaining pond near the Leland Walmart and he was very popular in the community. He was a big, beautiful boy of 11 feet and estimated to weigh in at around 500-600 pounds.
We’d like to start off by saying that Jimmy English’s Wildlife Removal Service did a very good job of capturing Crunch & Munch. They did it very fast and without harming the alligator. We were first told about the removal by Matt Born of StarNews. When we arrived on the scene we got to talk to Jimmy English and the other members of his crew. They were very nice and professional and took the time to speak to us about how this relocation was done to protect the alligator, as well as the public.
One of our mottos is “IF WE EDUCATE, WE WON’T HAVE TO RELOCATE.” We’re never happy when one of our Brunswick County alligators has to be taken out of their habitat, but we realize that sometimes it just can’t be helped. The reason Crunch & Munch had to be relocated was because of human interaction. Even though it is against the law to feed alligators, he was often being fed. Even though it is against the law to harass an alligator, we were told that there were several incidents of people actually getting in the water to approach him.
This is why it is so important NOT to feed an alligator (or any wild animal). If an alligator is fed ONE TIME it then associates humans with food. The alligator then loses its fear of humans. If you see an alligator in the wild and it starts to approach you that’s a good sign that someone has been illegally feeding it. The alligator sees you and thinks “free meal.” Otherwise a wild gator will most likely flee from you.
Being able to see an alligator in the wild in our state is a wonderful opportunity. Over the past few years we have spent time with people near Crunch & Munch’s habitat. We’ve passed out brochures and wristbands. A lot of the people we met were parents that just wanted to show their children what an alligator in the wild looks like. Not one that’s in an aquarium, or in a zoo.
Crunch & Munch was relocated to Holly Shelter Game Land in Pender County, which consists of 75,000 acres of land. It’s a beautiful place. However, these game lands are managed by the Wildlife Resources Commission for public hunting. If there is ever an alligator hunting law passed in our state, the alligators that have been relocated there could eventually be hunted and killed.
We will miss Crunch & Munch and we’re certainly not alone. This alligator was loved by many. He had to be relocated by absolutely no fault of his own. He lost his habitat, his HOME, because some people simply could not observe the laws.
Alligator Alliance would like to thank Ray J. Walter, Ph.D. for permission to use his video. We are always thrilled to meet others who are willing to share in our quest to be a voice for the alligators in Brunswick County that we love so much.