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
The recent 75 degree temperatures were such a welcome change last week! After some brutally cold days and nights (and even a foot of snow in December), we were ready to hit the swamps and get back to work! Our “down time” is normally from November - March. When the temperatures start to rise, we are on the lookout for alligators! We were happy to spend several days in Brunswick County, the place we
love so much.
A friend of ours had told us how far the water was down at Orton Pond. The state is still doing repairs on the damage from the hurricanes last fall. We pick up more trash at Orton Pond than we do in ALL of the habitats in Brunswick County combined. There is a huge problem with people feeding the alligators there. Not only do they illegally feed them, they throw their trash at them.
We normally clean Orton Pond with custom made, extra long grabbers that my husband makes. They do an excellent job and enable us to get in areas without getting in the water. Since the water was down, my husband climbed down the banks of the pond to get to the trash. Even though it was very warm, the alligators are still in brumation. I still kept an eye out on the water for any approaching alligators. We took some photos of the trash that we were able to get to and we’ll post them in this blog. One aluminum can had alligator teeth marks all over it.
Not only does the trash make the pond look bad, it is bad for our ecosystem and all of our wildlife. It is an eye sore and it is a danger to the wildlife that calls Orton Pond their home. We’ve been cleaning alligator habitats since 2010 and we picked up so much trash that we literally had no place to put it. That is one of the reasons we became involved in the NC Adopt-A-Highway Program. They provide free orange trash bags, gloves and vests. They also pick up all of the trash that we collect. It is a great way to volunteer and give back to the community.
Which brings me to a subject that I’ve been meaning to address … we had previously adopted a two mile stretch of Midway Road (the road that leads from Highway 211 to Oak Island). That is a four lane road and there’s not anything on it. When we first
adopted it, it wasn’t too bad. As the months went by, more and more trash was being thrown out there. It didn’t get mowed very often and we couldn’t pick up trash when the grass was nearly knee high. Then when they did mow it, the trash got cut up into thousands of pieces.
When you adopt a road you agree to pick up the trash four times per year (every three months). We were picking up trash about once a month on Midway Road and still couldn’t stay caught up. We were struggling to keep it clean and it worried me that we couldn’t keep up our end of the contract. The final straw was when someone complained about us last fall. They called Fran at the DOT and told her (we) Alligator Alliance hadn’t been picking up trash on Midway Road. Fran told them that we had picked up more trash than what was required of our contract. That complaint forced me to make a decision. I had to let the NC Adopt-A-Highway contract expire on Midway Road.
My cousin Sheila adopted the other two mile stretch of Midway Road shortly after we adopted ours. We both were excited to keep Midway Road clean. Unfortunately, last week someone complained about her half of the road. Since the G.V. Barbee Bridge closed last October, the only way onto Oak Island is by Midway Road and Swain’s Cut Bridge. The trash situation has gotten even worse on Midway Road since the bridge closure. Sheila told me that due to the complaint she received last week, she has made the decision to end her contract as well.
Since we (Alligator Alliance) and Sheila (Seaside Crabby Chic Art) have both made the decision to end our contracts on Midway Road, now no one will be picking up the trash there (unless someone new adopts that road). We don’t know who complained about us, but I just want to let that person know that we worked really hard to keep that road clean. We don’t even live in Brunswick County. We drive 220+ miles to volunteer to keep roads clean. Adopting a road and keeping the trash picked up isn’t easy work, but it’s rewarding. We honestly did our best to keep the trash picked up. I’m sorry it didn’t work out. My hope is that a large group of people will adopt Midway Road, because it is the road most tourists take to Oak Island. I don’t want their first impressions to be of a litter strewn road.
I’ve been promising everyone for the past two years that I was going to write a children’s book. It is complete and you will be able to read it very soon. We have been contacting publishers for the past few months and trying to figure out the best (and cheapest) way to make it available for everyone. Our hope is to have it available by the end of next month (March).
We are also working on new brochures and t-shirts. We will be meeting with our t-shirt printer next week. The brochures are still a work in progress, but we will have all the changes made and have them printed by April 1st. We have had many requests for Alligator Alliance stickers. We have designed one and we are currently shopping around for the best price to get them printed. As always, we like to hand stuff out for free. When I started Alligator Alliance I never meant for it to be a way to make money. We do what we do because we love alligators.
Thank you for your continued support. We had a LOT of exposure last year from our articles in North Brunswick Magazine (we made the front cover!) and Carolina Country Magazine. We are very excited (and hopeful) that we will be featured in another magazine this spring or summer. We were recently contacted by a major magazine and we are keeping our fingers crossed that they will follow through with an article about us.
We want to thank our friends Dawn and Jeff who often let us stay in their guest cottage on Oak Island! We take a lot of spur-of-the-moment trips based on the weather. When I texted Dawn to see if her cottage was available, she told me that someone else was in it at the moment. Then she told me we were more than welcome to stay at her parent’s vacation home on the island. That worked out perfectly! We are blown away by the kindness and generosity of others and very thankful to Dawn and her parents!
Remember, ONE person CAN make a difference. Be that ONE person. Make the difference. Choose your own path. My path is through the swamps! As always, swamp water runs through my veins.
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!
We were in Brunswick County the week leading up to Hurricane Florence. As you all know by now, Beau is my favorite alligator. I have spent countless hours with this gator and he is a big, beautiful boy! As time grew closer for Florence to hit and us to leave Brunswick County, I noticed that Beau (and other gators) disappeared. We know that alligators are far smarter than people give them credit for. They have incredible instincts and that is why they have survived for millions of years. We believe the alligators sensed the coming hurricane and went to their dens to wait it out.
We didn’t think that the hurricane would affect the alligators very much. All of the rain just made their habitats bigger. It gave them more room to swim and hunt. We learned that the road by Beau’s habitat lost a 250 foot section. The pond he calls home breached the road and washed out the causeway. About 3 weeks after the hurricane, we were thrilled to see a photo of Beau swimming between the broken halves
of the road.
Although the photo eased our minds, we still wanted to see Beau in person. We’ve been back to Brunswick County several times since the hurricane, but it seemed that every time we went to visit Beau’s habitat, he wasn’t there. They were working on repairing the road that goes by his pond and Beau doesn’t like the noise the loud trucks make. We have observed him many times going underwater even before we heard a dump truck approaching. Alligators have excellent hearing and they also feel vibrations. We continued to check on other habitats, but we really wanted to see Beau.
We spent several days this past week in Brunswick County. The very first thing we did when we arrived was drive straight to Beau’s habitat. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, because we typically don’t see many alligators in November. As we pulled up beside the pond, I saw Beau’s “friend” Mrs B (a female he’s been hanging out with for the past few years). I was excited to see ANY alligator at this time of year. We continued to drive slowly by the pond and then I saw him! I saw Beau! I was so happy that I screamed (and scared my husband to death).
Seeing Beau in pictures and reading e-mails where people have told me they saw him and that he looked fine, is nothing like seeing him in person for myself. The last time I saw Beau was on September 7th. I was so relieved to see him last week and to see that he was okay. He has been battling an eye infection in his right eye since October of 2014 and I was happy to see that it has completely cleared up. It’s been touch and go this year. One time I’d see him and it would look better, then the next day it would look cloudy again.
We got a LOT of work done and did our final clean up of the year. We picked up trash on our adopted roads (through NC Adopt-A-Highway) and we cleaned some more habitats. We had previously cleaned the majority of them in October. We saved Beau’s area for last. It’s good that we did, because our extra long custom made grabber broke. It’s not the first one we’ve worn out in the past 8 years. I’m lucky that my husband can make another one and we’ve got the entire winter for him to work on that project.
We were anxious to check on Quinn and her 9 hatchlings that we saw at the end of October, but we didn’t see any sign of her or the hatchlings. However, we did see another juvenile that we’ve never seen before. It is very unusual to find new alligators in November. We have only seen Quinn in this particular area, but a friend of ours (Sharon) who lives near there, has told me that she’s seen 2 smaller gators besides Quinn. We decided to name the new gator Toto.
I have always loved fall and the cooler temps it brings, as well as the colorful foliage on the trees. But, when this time of year approaches, I know I won’t be seeing my alligators for a while. I will miss them. Now the countdown begins. Every day that passes, we are one day closer to spring. I can’t wait to be on “Gator Patrol” again! Swamp water runs through my veins! I am never happier than when I am in a swamp, surrounded by mosquitoes, no-see-ums and alligators. We are looking forward to 2019 and seeing what it holds in store for Alligator Alliance.
My late mother-in-law (Wanda) used to say “There is always, always something to be thankful for!” How right she was!
This year didn’t start out very well for me. I lost a family member who meant so very much to me just a few days after Christmas. I sank into a depression that lasted for a few months. In January I even decided that I was going to dissolve Alligator Alliance. That thought didn’t last long (obviously), but I just wanted to give an example of what mindset I was in at that time.
With the New Year also came the realization that NC would have its first alligator hunting season in 45 years. However, we were very thankful that only 20 permits were issued and they were ALL in Hyde County! Those permits weren’t cheap. Each application cost $8 and each permit cost $250. We were even more thankful that out of those 20 permits that were purchased, only ONE alligator was killed! So that means that 19 hunters paid $258 for the opportunity to harvest an alligator and they weren’t able to find one. Wild alligators (not illegally fed, “food conditioned” alligators) are very shy and illusive. They flee from humans. They are also very well camouflaged and extremely hard to see.
The funniest thing we heard all year long was what hunter Jeffrey Raub said in an interview with CBS 17 in October:
"I don't understand why the county manager and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission would allow this opportunity if there's nothing there. It would be like having a unicorn season in Johnston County. The initial thought was a lot of excitement. It looks like some great alligator habitat. The problem is there aren't any alligators."
Thank you Jeffrey! That comment about the unicorn hunting season made us laugh until tears rolled down our faces!
North Brunswick Magazine contacted us and wanted to do an article about Alligator Alliance (we ended up making the front cover of the Summer issue). Carolina Country Magazine contacted us about doing a features article (that came out in July). We can’t thank both publications enough for these articles! It gave us exposure that we never dreamed of getting! We are so very thankful for both opportunities!
I am very thankful to one of my best friends (Kim) who always has a guest bedroom ready for me. All I have to do is pick up the phone and text her and she says “Come on down!” We are also very thankful to our new friends Dawn and Jeff for allowing us to stay in their guest house.
We are very thankful to our realtor (Shelly Vaughan-Morrow) for helping us search for land AND the future home of Alligator Alliance! I know our list of requirements was very long, but she never, ever gave up on finding us exactly what we wanted!
And, last but not least, I am so very thankful for my husband (John), who gave up an ENTIRE SUMMER of fishing, just so he could help me find new alligators and clean habitats! The last time he went fishing was on May 25th! Due to all of the exposure both magazine articles gave us, we had more people to talk to than the last 8 years combined!
I am so thankful that my love of alligators that started in July of 2010 (when I saw my first one in the wild) has grown to something beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I am thankful that I was able to turn my alligator obsession into Alligator Alliance!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Please count your blessings. And remember, there is always, always something to be thankful for!!!
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
We spent the week after Labor Day at Oak Island. We kept hearing people talk about the hurricane that could possibly hit our area. When we left to go home on that Sunday, we saw businesses and home owners nailing up boards to protect their property. We watched the news every day as Hurricane Florence started making its way towards NC. When it hit Brunswick County and the surrounding areas of NC, it was absolutely heart breaking to see all of the videos and pictures on TV, as well as online. But seeing the damage in person was even worse. It was unimaginable.
We spent last week at Oak Island and during our stay we got to see firsthand the areas that were hit the hardest. Seeing it in person was very sobering. To drive down streets and see people’s lives stacked up in huge piles at the side of the road left me speechless (which doesn’t happen very often). We also had the chance to talk to people and hear what they went through during the storm. We heard many stories about people who didn’t have flood insurance and lost everything they had.
While we were there last week we took several photos of what we saw. We drove down so many streets that had piles of stuff stacked in front of houses on both sides of the street. We took some photos of what we saw, but we have decided not to post them.
We were happy to be able to get to Orton Road where the causeway breached and washed out a huge stretch of the road. They have put down gravel and will be paving it in the near future. We were also happy to see one of our gators. We got some very good photos of where Beau had climbed up the bank and over the road. We could see slide marks where he dragged himself up. He has some HUGE feet!
As Brunswick County continues to rebound from all of the damage it suffered, we continue to pray for everyone who was affected by this storm.
We were very fortunate to have someone (who wishes to remain anonymous) donate a drone to our organization this summer. We were in Boiling Spring Lakes this past week, looking at the damage caused to Alton Lennon Road, due to the breach of the Sanford Dam. We were attempting to video the area with our drone when a big gust of wind came up and blew it into the top of a 50+ foot pine tree. We attempted to remove it from the tree, but the battery went dead. We both thought that that was the end of our drone.
We decided to head towards the Boiling Spring Lakes Police Office to see if our friend Chief Brad Shirley could possibly help us. Along the way, we stopped at a store and ran into a man who was working in the area. We told him what happened and he said he’d try to help us get it down. He followed us back to Alton Lennon Road and within 5 minutes we had our drone back! He used a long switch gear pole. It worked like a charm.
We just want to publicly thank Matt for helping us! He refused to let us pay him for his time, but we did manage to coerce him into letting us take a photo so we could post it on our website. He thanked us for what Alligator Alliance does and he seemed thrilled to have been able to help us recover our drone. THANK YOU SO MUCH MATT! You saved the day!
I try very hard to keep my blogs about the alligators that I love so much and NOT about any personal issues. Recently, I found out that an acquaintance of ours is telling people that he taught us everything we know about alligators and that he “helps” us out from time to time. Nope, that’s not true! I won’t call this person out by name. That’s not my style. I will tell you that I have known this person for less than a year. When I am visiting habitats I call that being on “Gator Patrol.” This person has never been on “Gator Patrol” with me and has never helped us clean a habitat. I knew from the beginning that Alligator Alliance would only be a 2 member organization. Our “Alliance” is with the alligators. They are our TRUE members.
I have never misled anyone about my education or knowledge about alligators. Before I saw my first one in the wild in Southport in July of 2010, I could count on one hand the things I knew about them. I don’t have any type of degree. What I know, I know because I make it my mission to learn everything I possibly can about alligators. I read every book
I can get my hands on. I then use what I have learned when I am observing them in the wild. Having the knowledge of what I have studied helps me when I am with the alligators. In 2019 we will be taking a certification class at CCSB Reptile Rescue & Rehab Center (Chad Griffin) in Kernersville, NC. We have known Chad and his family for years and we look forward to becoming certified alligator handlers.
I started Alligator Alliance in January of 2015. I can tell you the exact moment I came up with the name for my organization. I am the Founder and President of Alligator Alliance. I make ALL of the final decisions. This project is my baby. From July of 2010 through December of 2014, I did everything I could to teach myself about alligators. I knew by December of 2014 that I wanted to do more than I had in the past 4 years. I knew it would be an uphill battle. Let’s face it, alligators aren’t cute and cuddly (although they are BEAUTIFUL to me!). The main focus of nearly everyone in Brunswick County it seems is saving the turtles. I love turtles (and ALL wildlife)! I support the people who work tirelessly to conserve our turtle population. They work extremely hard and do an amazing job. I just knew from the very first day I saw an alligator in Southport that I had found my calling in life. There wasn’t anyone protecting them or cleaning up the trash in their habitats. They needed me to be a voice for them.
My own parents told me that I was crazy for picking alligators to champion. They said it would never work. That no one likes alligators. That I would get hurt in the process of cleaning habitats. That no one would support me. My mother-in-law even laughed at me when I started my organization in January of 2015. She said “What kind of organization has only 2 members?” Did I let it stop me? No! Did I let it slow me down? No! I am very strong minded (some would say hard headed) and independent. When someone tells me I can’t do something, in the back of my mind I start trying to figure out how I can prove them wrong. And prove them wrong I did! Who knew that in July of 2010, as I stood on the side of a road in Southport, gazing down at Charlie (my first alligator), that in exactly 8 years my little organization would be on the front cover of North Brunswick Magazine?!
People, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Don’t let their negativity discourage you. Don’t let anyone take credit for what YOU do. Alligator Alliance was 100% MY idea. No one came up with this except for me. I do not need to follow in anyone else’s footsteps (except for God’s). I follow my own path (mostly through the swamps, LOL). I am unique. I don’t need to copy anyone else. I have my own brain and I can come up with my own ideas. Alligator Alliance is and always will be a work of love for me.
With that being said, I do want to say that I get a LOT of help from my husband (John). Without him, Alligator Alliance wouldn’t have a website. Without him, Alligator Alliance wouldn’t have brochures to hand out for free. He is the other half of this 2 person organization. When I came home in July of 2010 and was all excited because I had seen my first alligator in the wild, he didn’t act shocked. When I told him I wanted to start cleaning habitats, he didn’t try to talk me out of it. He said he’d make me an extra long custom grabber to clean habitats with. When I came up with the idea of Alligator Alliance in January of 2015, he said he’d support me (and the alligators) in any way he could. And he has. He has been to every wildlife meeting with me. He has spent countless hours cleaning habitats and talking to people about why alligators are so misunderstood. I wouldn’t say he loves alligators as much as I do, (because I don’t think there is ANY one out there who loves them as much as me!), but he genuinely cares about them. We are both dedicated to conserving NC’s alligator population and keeping them in their natural habitats. My husband is also an amazing wildlife photographer and has had photos published in several magazines.
I’ll wrap this up by giving you a quick update on Alligator Alliance. I had planned to write a children’s book about alligators last year, but didn’t get around to it. I am happy to say that it is now finished. We are currently talking to publishers and trying to figure out the best and most economical way to publish it. I am very pleased about how the book turned out. I love to write and I had an idea that I was tossing around in my head. Then the title popped into my mind and after that, the book was easy to write. We have also designed a coloring book. Like the children’s book, it will also be available in 2019.
Once again, we have to thank NORTH BRUNSWICK MAGAZINE and CAROLINA COUNTRY MAGAZINE! Both magazines have brought so much awareness to our organization. We are so thankful for the support we’ve received. We are happy to know that there are a LOT of gator lovers in NC besides us. The visits to our website continue to astound us. We had over 70,000 new visitors in July and over 40,000 new visitors in August. We thought things were dying down a little bit, but then in September we were pleasantly surprised to have over 60,000 new visitors. We love the GATOR LIFE!
We know that so many people were affected by Hurricane Florence in Brunswick County, as well as other areas in NC. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to everyone who is dealing with the aftermath of this historic storm. We have received several e-mails from people asking us about the affect the floods may have had
on our alligator population. One thing we know for sure is that alligators are survivors. They instinctually know what to do and when to do it. With all of the rain and flooding, many alligator habitats have overflowed. This poses no threat to the alligators. I suspect they love it, because the size of their “house” just expanded by leaps and bounds. Even so, I was still concerned about them, especially my favorite alligator (Beau). We learned that the road by his habitat lost a 250 foot section. The pond he calls home breached the road and washed out the causeway. Yesterday we were thrilled to see a photo of
Beau swimming between the broken halves of the road. Thank you to the staff of Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson for keeping us up-to-date on our favorite place in Brunswick County!
Photos Courtesy Of
Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site
After Labor Day passes we concentrate on cleaning up all of our alligator habitats. A few of our alligator habitats are unfortunately frequently visited by people who not only illegally feed the alligators, they also throw their trash at them. We were pleasantly surprised that this year these habitats weren’t nearly as dirty as they’ve been in years past. We hope this means that people are finally getting the message that it is illegal to feed alligators.
If you’ve followed our story, you know by now that we don’t live in Brunswick County, but we do operate our organization out of Brunswick County. Even though we don’t live there, we are frequent visitors and consider it our second home. Between the months of March and October we are there at least every other week, because that’s when the alligators are active. Our favorite times of the year are before Memorial Day and after Labor Day, because it isn’t nearly as crowded. From March through Memorial Day and Labor Day through October we stay by the week. From Memorial Day through Labor Day our visits our much shorter, usually a 2-3 day visit.
We were there last week and even though Labor Day was behind us, we still saw crowds of people and the temperatures were very hot. We were cleaning up alligator habitats and picking up trash along one of our Adopt-A-Highway roads in 90+ degree temps. We saw a lot of our regular alligators, the ones who stay in their same habitats year after year. We are happy to report that we didn’t notice any injuries to any of our alligators this year. It is normal for us to see bite marks and skinned places on alligators, as well as missing limbs and toes, especially on the males who constantly fight for food and mates.
As our week drew to a close, we started hearing more and more about Hurricane Florence. When we left on Sunday we saw several people on Oak Island and in Southport boarding up businesses and homes. It made us realize that life on the coast isn’t always “fun in the sun.” Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who is preparing for this catastrophic event.
One thing we noticed last week was that nearly all of our alligators were present and accounted for. But as the weekend drew closer, we started seeing less and less of them. By Saturday the numbers had really dwindled. By Sunday all of the alligators were gone. Was this just a coincidence or can they sense the approach of Hurricane Florence? It makes perfect sense to us since alligators have survived for millions and millions of years. They are very smart and have superb survival instincts. Another reason we consider them our last living dinosaurs.
We talked to so many people last week as we were out cleaning habitats. We always wear Alligator Alliance t-shirts and several people recognized us from our two magazine articles that came out in July (North Brunswick Magazine and Carolina Country Magazine). Our website continues to have a record number of visitors each and every day. We had 70,000+ new visitors in July, as well as 40,000+ new visitors in August! The e-mails are also still pouring in, as well as more offers of donations and Go-Fund-Me accounts. We are so very thankful for the outpouring of support that you all have shown our little organization!
And last, but not least … I am very fortunate that one of my best friends lives full time on Oak Island and has given me an open invitation to her home when I’m having “separation anxiety” from my gators. This summer I experienced an unusually high amount of “separation anxiety” (LOL)! THANKS KIM! YOU’RE THE BEST!!!
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!
Due to unseasonably cold temperatures this spring, it has taken longer for our regular alligators to reappear in their habitats. Every spring we look forward to warmer temps so we can check on the alligators who return to their same habitats year after year. There are certain alligators that we normally see in February, while others we see in March and April. The smaller alligators come out of brumation earlier than the bigger ones.
One of the most common questions we are routinely asked is “What do alligators do in the winter?” Mammals hibernate, while reptiles brumate. When mammals hibernate they fall
into a deep sleep and they do not eat or drink. During brumation alligators do not fall
asleep and they still have periods of activity. Alligators do not eat during brumation, but they do continue to drink water to avoid dehydration. When alligators brumate, their metabolic rate slows down and they become lethargic. They stop eating and they create
dens or mud holes for warmth and shelter. On warmer winter days alligators are sometimes seen basking in the sun. Brumation usually lasts four to five months, starting in November and ending in late February.
By April of each year we’ve usually seen our favorite alligator Beaudreaux (Beau). It is now the first week of May and we still haven’t seen him. It has always been our experience that the smaller alligators come out of brumation first and then as the daytime temps continue to rise, we start seeing some of our larger alligators.
This past week we checked up on our newest alligator Cadence. She is a beautiful juvenile and she has a nice habitat that she is making good use of by switching spots where she basks on the side of the bank. We were thrilled to see Albert and Sobek, two juveniles who are rapidly growing into sub-adults. We hadn’t seen either of them since last fall and it is always good to see our regular gators make it through another winter. We also saw Jax, Michael and Cutie Pie. We’ll be posting new photos at the end of this blog.
We encourage people to contact us and let us know if there is an alligator they’d like to tell us about. We love hearing what others name their alligators! We are so very thankful to the people who continue to allow us to come on to their private property and view their alligators. We try very hard not to post photos that will give away a location, especially if it’s on private property. That is part of the “alliance” we are in, with not only the alligators, but also with the property owners.
This past week we met a very nice lady as we were checking out a new habitat we’d been contacted about. We didn’t see any alligators, but it is a beautiful area and we’re looking forward to keeping an eye on it. Not every person we come into contact with is an alligator lover. And that’s okay. We understand people have concerns about safety and alligators can be scary. I won’t mention the ladies’ name because this habitat is also on private property, but she approached us and told us that she was very concerned about the alligator behind her house. Sadly she told us that the alligator had killed her dog and also attacked her cat (the cat survived). She went on to tell us that her dog hadn’t been on a leash. I can’t imagine the heartbreak of seeing an alligator (or any wild animal) eating my beloved pet. Unfortunately, it does happen. Alligators don’t know the difference between a dog and a deer, or a cat and a raccoon. It’s all food to them and when an alligator eats a pet, as sad as it is, that’s just an alligator being an alligator.
The NC Wildlife doesn’t like to relocate alligators. One of Alligator Alliance’s beliefs is, if we educate, we won’t have to relocate. But with that being said, sometimes there just isn’t a choice. If you live in a neighborhood where there are a lot of children and pets, an alligator may have to be relocated. If you have concerns, please contact the NC Wildlife so that they can come out and talk to you about it.
With the temps getting warmer by the day, alligators will be on the crawl. They’re looking for food, mates and habitats to claim as their own. Remember, ANY body of water has the potential to have an alligator in it. Just because there isn’t one there today, doesn’t mean there won’t be one there tomorrow. If you see an alligator, please keep your distance. Don’t let your children be around them. Don’t feed them. Don’t approach them. Keep your pets on a leash and away from them.
Be a GATOR SPOTTER! If you see an alligator take a picture or video of it and e-mail it to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org! We’ll put it on our website and give you photo credit for it.
Thank you for your continued support of Alligator Alliance. Our website has gotten over 9000 views so far this year! We are 100% self-funded and non-profit. We do what we do because we love alligators. We clean their habitats and we love meeting people and passing out brochures and wristbands. We also do free presentations for people who want to learn more about how to co-exist with alligators. We want to remind everyone how lucky we are to be able to see alligators in their natural habitats and not just in a zoo or an aquarium. They truly are our last living dinosaurs!
We hope everyone has a fun and safe summer!
We absolutely LOVE springtime! We love it when the temps start getting warmer, because that’s when we get to check on our favorite alligators and see how they made it through another winter. Springtime certainly took its time getting here this year. There is nothing like spending several days in Brunswick County to lift our spirits and put a smile on our faces.
Our trip last week was two-fold. Part business, part pleasure. We were contacted a few weeks ago by Allison Carter, Managing Editor, from North Brunswick Magazine. They wanted to do a Feature Article about Alligator Alliance that will run in an upcoming summer issue! We were thrilled to hear from them, because they publish a beautiful magazine that is available all over Brunswick County. We were able to do the interview in a series of phone calls with writer Emily Hatch. THANK YOU EMILY! The magazine wanted us to do a photo shoot as well.
We met Laura Glantz (of Laura Glantz Design & Photo) at one of our favorite alligator habitats in Brunswick County last Thursday (March 29th). We have never done a photo shoot before and Laura was such a pleasure to work with! She put us right at ease. We talked for a while about Alligator Alliance and gave her some background info about what we do and why we love alligators so much. After only a few minutes of knowing Laura, we felt like we’d made a friend for life! She not only did a great job, she was really interested in every aspect of what we do and why we feel it is so important to protect our alligator population. By the time our photo shoot was over, we knew we had another alligator enthusiast on our side! THANK YOU LAURA (please see our “Fun Stuff & Links” page for her contact info)!
We also met with our realtor (Shelly Vaughan Morrow of Cronick & Associates Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage). Shelly has been diligently working with us this year to help us find acreage to build our new home on. We have a long list of things we do and don’t want, but she was more than willing to take on the challenge. We explained to her what our long term goals are, not only for us, but for Alligator Alliance and she didn’t bat an eye. In fact, she said “I’M ON IT!” We are closer than ever to making our dreams come true of living in the B.C. (how we refer to Brunswick County)! THANK YOU SHELLY (please see our “Fun Stuff & Links” page for her contact info)!
In between taking care of business last week and doing our photo shoot, we spent some time doing what we love best. Being on GATOR PATROL! A lot of our alligators are in ponds on private property and we are very lucky that we have permission to visit them whenever we want to. As I have mentioned before in other blogs, some of the gators we see, we see only once and then never again. Our favorite gators are the ones who return year after year to their same habitats.
Jax is one of our “regulars” and also one of our favorites. We’ve seen him grow from a juvenile to a sub-adult. We got some really good photos of him, doing what gators do best … basking in the sun. We approached his habitat slowly and observed him with “gator goggles” (binoculars). I stayed to the left of Jax, while JC approached him from the right to try and get some good pics. One of the things we love the most about Jax is that he is truly a wild alligator. Some of our gators are “food conditioned” (illegally fed by humans) and they don’t flee when they see us. They actually come toward us, thinking they’re going to get a free hand out.
Alligators have excellent hearing, both in and out of water. Jax was lying on the bank (maxing and relaxing LOL) and JC was taking pics, when all of a sudden Jax exploded and returned to the water. The shutter clicking on JC’s camera had scared him. Jax was literally there on the bank one second and in the blink of an eye, the water was swirling and flying and he was gone. That’s how fast an alligator is. Jax is the type of gator we love to see. One who isn’t “food conditioned” and is very afraid of humans … a wild gator.
We also saw Neo, who is another one of our sub-adult “regulars” and he is a wild gator. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get a good photo of Neo this time. He was very far off, towards the back of his habitat in a wooded area. We know where to look for him (all gators have their own favorite basking spots) and we were able to observe him with binoculars.
Lil Renee is a juvenile we’ve been seeing for a couple of years. She is fast becoming a
sub-adult. She is also a wild alligator. We were happy to see her in her same habitat and
we got a few good pics of her.
There are only two of us and we can’t be everywhere at once, so we have to visit habitats in a certain order. We also try to check out new areas along the way. We get so excited when we find a new habitat with a new gator in it! We are introducing Cadence, a beautiful juvenile, on our “Meet The Gators” page.
We cleaned a few habitats last week as well and didn’t see any major issues. We did a final clean up last October and November and then rechecked them in January. They usually remain in decent condition from October until warmer weather (and tourist season) arrives.
Which brings me to this reminder … please don’t feed the alligators (or any wildlife). It is illegal to intentionally feed an alligator in NC and it carries a fine of up to $500. And please don’t throw trash at them. It not only looks bad, it is dangerous for the alligators and all other wildlife.
One more thing I want to mention. As you’ve probably heard by now, NC will have its first alligator hunting season September 1st - October 1st (you can read more about it in my previous blog dated March 5th). It will be the first time NC has allowed alligator hunting since 1973. We haven’t gotten a response back from NCWRC or Allen Boynton as to how many permits they will be issuing, but we’ve heard it’s going to be on a very limited basis.
We were thrilled to recently hear that the town of Belville NC has banned alligator hunting. Star News reported that Belville passed a resolution on March 18th which rejects the option to allow alligator hunting. They also quoted Commissioner Joe Breault as saying that town Commissioners came to an agreement after expressing concern that hunting female alligators could lead to a decline in the overall gator population. Kudos to Belville! You can read the entire article at:
We continue to hear rumors that Oak Island, Bald Head Island and Southport will be following in Belvilles’ footsteps and ban alligator hunting as well. If you live in any of these cities, PLEASE let your elected officials know that you are against alligator hunting! Remember, ONE person CAN make a difference!
Thanks to everyone who has contacted us recently about the hunting season. Our website had over 3000 views in just two weeks after it was announced! Thanks again to Allison Carter and Emily Hatch at North Brunswick Magazine and to Laura Glantz (from Laura Glantz Design & Photo - lauraglantz.com)! We can’t wait to read the article about
Alligator Alliance and see the pictures. We appreciate the magazine helping to get the
word out about us.
We hope everyone has a great spring! Be safe! Please remember that ANY body of water in the eastern part of NC has the potential to have an alligator in it. If you see an alligator, keep your distance. Leave it alone. Do not approach it. Do not feed or harass it. Keep your children and your pets away from them. The smaller the prey, the easier it is for the alligator to take. To an alligator a dog resembles a deer and a cat resembles a raccoon.
If you have a photo or video of an alligator that you’d like to share with us, please e-mail it to us! We’ll put it on our website and give you credit for it! If you know of an alligator that you’d like to tell us about so we can go see it, just let us know. We are always happy to check out new habitats. One thing I particularly like hearing is what other people name alligators that they see. I’ve met a lot of people in the past few years and I love the fact that I’m not the only one who names them.
Thank you again for your continued support of Alligator Alliance!
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!
I know a lot of people look forward to fall. The shorter days, the cooler temps. I love the beautiful fall colors and the cooler temps are nice. What I don’t like is the fact that with every day that passes, I see less and less of my alligators.
My favorite time of the year is spring. That’s when all the alligators “wake up” and start to move around. They’re looking for food, looking for new habitats and looking for love. Spring is when I typically find new gators. Some I see once and then never see again.
My favorite gators are the ones I see year after year, in their same habitats. Beau, Mojo, Mrs. B, Val, Neo, Gigi, Jax, Sobek and Baby Charlie, just to name a few. Each spring I can’t wait to visit their habitats and see if they’ve made it through another winter.
If you’ve met me or looked at my website, you know that Beau is my favorite gator. He’s the one I spend the most time with. This year I was disappointed not to see the biggest and oldest gator I know of, Mojo. The last time I saw him was August of 2016. Mojo is blind in one eye (and maybe both). He’s missing lots of toes. He has lots of battle scars. But boy, is he a beauty. I am worried about him. I have no way of knowing if he’s dead or if he possibly moved on (which I doubt, because he’s had the same habitat since I first saw him in 2010).
I didn’t find any new gators this spring. My dad had a heart attack in mid-February and I stayed with him for 3 weeks. And even when I went back to staying at my house, I still didn’t feel comfortable leaving him for a trip to Brunswick County. I’m an only child and I lost my mom in 2014, so my husband and I are all that my dad has. Yes, I missed seeing my gators, but my dad is my number one priority. The beach will always be there and so will the alligators (as long as we don’t get a hunting season).
Fall is the time of year when I do one last clean up of all the gator habitats. I usually wait until after the end of September, when tourist season is typically over with. Last week I visited numerous habitats and picked up 10 huge bags of trash over the course of 8 days. It’s not the alligators who are messy. It’s the humans that illegally feed them and throw their trash at them.
I love meeting new people (and running into people I’ve already met) when I’m out cleaning habitats and visiting gators. This time of year, I usually don’t run into that many people. I was thrilled to meet Angela Holt on October 2nd and we talked for about an hour. I am always amazed at the number of people I meet who love alligators (almost as much as I do) and who also name them. Angela lives in Wilmington and she likes to visit Beau and Mojo. She even knew about Crunch & Munch, the gator that was relocated three times from his habitat near the Walmart in Leland (watch the 4/24/16 video under Blogs). She e-mailed me some amazing photos of Beau, Mojo, one of Val’s hatchlings and Crunch & Munch, which I’m sharing with you in this blog.
We do free presentations for communities and attempt to teach people how to co-exist with alligators in Brunswick County. We believe in educating, not relocating (unless it’s absolutely necessary). I’m not good at standing in front of a crowd and talking (my husband is the pro when it comes to that), but put me beside a habitat with a gator in it and I can talk all day long.
People are usually surprised when they meet me in person and find out what Alligator Alliance is all about. You know that old phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover?” That is certainly true about me. I know I don’t look like your typical wildlife or gator enthusiast. I’m way past middle-age (I’m 56) and I’m not a small person by any means. People are surprised that I’m not afraid of alligators, because I certainly couldn’t out run one. I do respect them though.
I’ve met so many people who have told me that alligators are ugly (boy, do I disagree). That they are big (some of them are). And that they stink (I love the smell of a swamp or a marsh). Others have asked me, why alligators? Why not cute little bunnies, or squirrels or turtles? Again, don’t judge a book by its cover. Who gets to decide that alligators are ugly, just because they aren’t “cute and cuddly” like a bunny? I love ALL wildlife, including opossums, vultures, fox squirrels, lizards and even snakes (okay, I’m still struggling with snakes LOL).
I wasn’t looking for new gators last week, but luckily someone had e-mailed me about one and I went to look for it. I usually don’t find new gators this late in the year, so it was a nice surprise. Unfortunately my husband (and photographer) wasn’t with me, so I didn’t get photos. I also checked out a retention pond in a sub-division and found a second new gator. I am hoping to share photos of Lilli and Brook with you next spring. It was a very good 8 day vacation in Brunswick County for me!
2017 is winding down, but every day that goes by, I am that much closer to spring of 2018, when I will see my gators again. Until then, I have several projects in the works. I am writing a children’s book about alligators. I am also designing an alligator coloring book (which we plan to hand out for free). I am hoping to get kids interested in gators at an early age. We handed out over 500 brochures in 2017 and gave away over 800 wristbands. In 2018 we plan to sell Alligator Alliance t-shirts on our website.
Thank you for all the support we’ve gotten this year. Thank you for all the e-mails and comments and photos you’ve sent. I still can’t believe how far my little organization has come since the first alligator I saw in Southport in July of 2010! I am living proof that it is never too late to find your passion in life. And remember, ONE person CAN make a difference!
Here’s to the Gator Life!
Crunch & Munch
All Photos in this Blog Courtesy of Angela Holt
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!
When we are out on “Gator Patrol” we meet a lot of people. We love talking to them and taking the opportunity to teach about alligators. We get a lot of questions like: “How many gators are there in NC?” “How long do they live?” “How do you tell the difference between male and female?” We also get some questions and comments on our website. Since the NCWRC has proposed an alligator hunting season for NC we’ve gotten a lot of questions like: “How can we help?” “What can we do?” We received a question recently about what Alligator Alliance is doing to help prevent the hunting season. We would like to share that question and our response with you.
What measures are being taken by the alliance (Alligator Alliance) to prevent the proposed harvesting of these wonderful creatures? I can't see anything in the NCWRC proposals that give a quantified reason for allowing hunting.
- Steve Johnston Bolivia, NC
Our Response –
Thanks for contacting us!
We are trying to do everything we possibly can to prevent an alligator hunting season here in NC. We attend as many meetings as we can that the NCWRC has, both public and private. The public meetings (like the 6 that are coming up later this month) are where we can all voice our opinions. The private meetings are either by invitation, or meetings we can go and sit and observe, but not speak up.
We too have read the 40 page draft about the proposed management plan. We agree, nothing seems clear cut in the draft. It seems to jump around all over the place. Alligator Alliance is mentioned in the draft a couple of times (pages 24 & 33).
Our main focus has always been to protect our alligator population and to educate the public about them. We are totally self-funded and non-profit. We do presentations by invitation (in neighborhoods or communities). We don't get paid to do it. We do it all because we love alligators.
From what we've heard, there is a lot of pressure from legislation to pass an alligator hunting season. We are the only state that doesn't have one. It is our opinion that we do not have enough alligators to support a hunting season. It seems to us that the NCWRC is having a hard time counting alligators and coming up with an exact amount.
On page 15 of the draft (Surveys and Monitoring) they refer to using "eye shine counts" as a way to count alligators. This isn't effective. Alligator eyes do shine when a light is shined on them in the dark. Other reptiles can also show eye shine...turtles, frogs and snakes. It is our opinion that "eye shine counts" aren't accurate at all.
Another method NCWRC is trying to use for counting our alligator population is through "inaturalist.org" (http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/nc-alligators). Where they ask the public to take photos of alligators in NC and submit them. I personally recognized 2 different photos of an alligator climbing a chain link fence and I immediately knew those photos weren't taken in NC. They were taken in FL and have been floating around on the internet for a number of years. I contacted NCWRC and advised them and they did pull those 2 photos down.
We've heard that a big push for a hunting season is the fact that it will generate income. Guides will get paid for taking people out to find alligators. Taxidermists will be paid to preserve an alligator "trophy." Meat processors will be paid to harvest the meat. The skins can be sold. Money from hunting permits and tags can be made. In our opinion there is much more money to be made from fining the people who illegally feed them and harass them. Each offense can be up to a $500 fine.
That is one of the main things we push for. There is so much evidence of alligators being fed and we've heard time and time again where people were warned about it, but not ticketed. It just keeps happening, especially at one tourist attraction in Brunswick County. NCWRC is aware of these alligators being illegally fed on a daily basis. These alligators are referred to as "nuisance gators" or "food conditioned gators." We don't consider them nuisance gators at all. They have lived in this pond for decades. They didn't leave their habitat (their home) and harass humans for food. The humans came to them and illegally fed them. It's not the gators' fault at all. I don't think these gators should be punished for something humans do. And they continuously get away with it. At the place I'm talking about, we pick up more trash there at that one spot, than we do at all the other habitats combined in Brunswick County! I'm talking about 55 gallon bags of garbage. We were picking up so much trash that we literally ran out of a place to put it. We adopted 2 roads through the NC Adopt-A-Highway Program. Now the DOT provides us with orange trash bags and they also pick up our trash when we call it in. A wonderful way to give back to the county we love so much!
There is only so much we can do. We stand up for these marvels of nature at every opportunity we get. We travel over 225 miles to do presentations for free in Brunswick County. We aren't reimbursed for food, gas or hotels. We spend money to print brochures we can hand out when we're out cleaning habitats and monitoring alligators. We spend money to buy printed wristbands and stickers that we also hand out. We maintain a website. We don't get reimbursed for any of that either. We do have T-Shirts for sale, but make no profit from them. We have a notebook for each year. We write down the location, the date, the time and even the temperature of when we visit an alligator habitat. We also make note of any alligator injuries that we see. Alligators fight over habitats and it's fairly common to see minor injuries that seem to heal quickly on their own. Some of the alligators we see stay in their same habitats year after year. We name all of our alligators. Some we see once and that's it. Our favorites are the ones we see year after year. Beau is my personal favorite. I've spent countless hours with that gator.
But in the end, there is only so much we can do. We need people like you. People we meet in person, or people who e-mail us after picking up one of our brochures (we leave them everywhere we can), or people who check our website out. We need the public to go to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission Alligator Management Plan Draft Survey (https://ncwildlife.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5u85bJUcM7jGXaZ) and tell them you don't want a hunting season. We need all the help we can get!
We are mentioned twice in the 40 page draft management plan. We're mentioned on page 24 as one of 8 "potentially affected parties" (if the hunting season is passed). We are also mentioned in the last paragraph of page 33, a law that was signed into effect on February 11th of 2016. We are very proud of the fact that Alligator Alliance will forever be listed as one of 8 organizations that helped prevent a hunting season from being passed in 2016.
Alligators truly are my passion. A passion I found I had at the age of 49, when I saw my first alligator in the wild in Southport. I am living proof that you are never too old to find your passion in life. And I also believe that ONE person CAN make a difference. I do not have a degree. I am not a marine biologist. I am not even an alligator expert. I just love these magnificent creatures. I love everything about them. I also believe that they are our last living dinosaurs.
Thank you again for your inquiry. I hope you'll go to the link and stand up with us for our alligators.
Help us help them!
His Response back –
Thank you Lisa. I have completed the survey and expressed my feelings about the useless killing of these gentle creatures. I've kayaked with them many years and can easily say that they never have presented any harm to me and usually do their best to avoid me. If anything I believe the NCWRC report supports leaving them alone and focusing on public education as the primary need. I also believe that there are other reasons for the push for a hunting season which needs to be disclosed, i.e.; “Who in the legislation are forcing the issue?” You can most likely turn to representatives from poor rural districts with residents of the mindset to kill them for profit, people that have been watching too much "Swamp People" on TV. Thanks for all you are doing.
- Steve Johnston
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the N.C. Alligator Task Force are holding six public forums in June to present a draft of the N.C. Alligator Management Plan and receive public input on the plan.
"The draft Alligator Management Plan, developed by the N.C. Alligator Task Force, provides biological information on alligators in North Carolina, identifies knowledge gaps and additional research needed on alligators, identifies areas where alligators may be overpopulated, and recommends biological and social strategies to address alligator management issues." - NCWRC Website
We encourage you to download the draft and read it (it is 40 pages long). You won't have to read every page but concentrate on sections III, IV, V.
With the arrival of warmer temperatures alligators will be on the move. This creates a very exciting time for us! Although we do see a few alligators during the winter (on warmer days), it is a much desired time to be able to see a lot of our old friends and favorites.
This time of year alligators are coming out of their "brumation" (a state or condition of sluggishness, inactivity or torpor exhibited by reptiles during winter or extended times of low temperatures). Alligators do not "hibernate." It is like "dormancy" where they react to cold environments by slowing their metabolic activity to a minimum to conserve energy. Alligators are Ectothermic. This means they rely on outside sources to regulate their internal temperature. That is why, even in the winter, they will bask on days of sunshine.
In the time we have monitored alligator behavior we have found that there are some alligators that we see every year in the same habitat. Some will even come and leave their habitats on specific dates. We have noticed one in particular that will not come to a location before Memorial Day and will leave on or very near Labor Day. We have not seen him before or after these dates. We always get excited to see specific alligators make it through the winter and return year after year.
They are also entering the mating season among other things. They are active this time of year and females on a nest can be very aggressive if approached. Traveling from habitat to habitat for mating, establishing their own territory or just moving around can create more human alligator encounters. For those who like them (or like us LOVE them), it is a fun time to enjoy and observe them. For some it is a cautious time. We understand that not everyone likes them or understands them.
With that said we want to offer some safety tips;
Be aware on, in or near water
- Alligators are opportunistic hunters. They prefer to wait for prey to get close and lunge to seize it. Everyone should be very aware of their surroundings near the water's edge. The embankment area, where land meets the water, is often covered in vegetation in which an alligator can hide, making it the reptile's favorite lurking place. Remember, the smaller the potential “prey” (such as a child or pet), the more attractive to the alligator, simply because it is easier to take.
Avoid swimming in water known to be inhabited by Alligators
- In the water you look much smaller to an alligator. Never enter water at night. Alligators are most active, especially for seeking prey, from dusk until dawn. The fact that you can't see well in the dark makes for a more dangerous situation. Remember that any body of water has the potential to house an alligator (even temporarily).
Never approach an Alligator
- Even a baby or a nest. Mother alligators are well known to be practically fearless when defending their offspring, whether they have hatched or not.
Share your knowledge
- If you see something that puts alligators, people or pets in danger, please share it. Speaking up for the safety of ALL promotes a greater appreciation of alligators and
our place in THEIR world. Teaching people is beneficial to help get the truth out and not rely on what society has taught us about these marvels of nature.
Now we would like to share with you some of our returning favorites this year!
The NCWRC has finally issued a draft of the Alligator Management Plan the Alligator Task Force has come up with. The NCPARC (North Carolina Partners In Amphibians And Reptile Conservation) is holding a PR&T (Policy, Regulation & Trade Working Group) meeting on Thursday, May 11th, from 1-4 pm. Allen Boynton from the NCWRC will be there to to go over the plan with us.
We are asking that if you are a member of the NCWRC or NCPARC (or any group or individual that has the ability to attend the meeting), please do so in order to give input for the Alligator Management Plan. We have received a draft copy and without saying more than allowed, it looks like it definitely needs some input from outside sources.
We will post another blog after the meeting to keep those interested updated as much as possible.
John & Lisa McNeill
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.
Alligator Alliance is not only dedicated to protecting the alligators that call Brunswick County home, we are also dedicated to keeping their habitats and surrounding areas clean.
If you’d like to adopt a 2 mile stretch of highway of your own, please visit the
It is easy and simple to apply. You can pick your own 2 mile stretch of highway, or you can let the DOT assign you one. You can do it in honor of a deceased loved one, or as a business or organization. All you have to do is agree to pick up trash 4 times per year (every 3 months). The DOT even supplies you with vests, gloves and orange trash bags. They also come out and collect all the bags of trash that you pick up.
It’s a great way to give back to the community!
Remember, ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!