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Low Gator-Hide Prices Driving Florida Trappers Out of Business

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May 12, 2011

Low Gator-Hide Prices Driving Florida Trappers Out of Business

By Chad Love

Trapping is, regrettably, a dying sport these days. Changing social attitudes and low fur prices have driven many trappers out of the woods. Or, in the case of Florida's alligator trappers, the swamps and canals.

From this story in the Orlando Sentinel:
Alligator hunter Johnny Douglas says his job is now tougher than gator hide. For more than a quarter-century, Douglas, 46, like his father before him, made a decent living in Central Florida stalking, snaring and skinning alligators that strayed into a backyard or some other place where the reptile wasn't welcome. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission called on him 170 times last year. But this week he'll stop answering their calls and will tend lawns instead.

Old-school trappers such as Douglas, whose livelihood depended largely on the sale of alligator hide, are calling it quits as the price of gas has soared and the price of alligator skins has plunged on the world market. He is the fifth in the past year to resign from the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program, which pays a stipend of $30 per gator to trappers who kill or remove alligators posing a threat to people, pets and property.

Thoughts? Any readers still run a trapline?

Comments (5)

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from RJ Arena wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

What have the prices dropped to? Alligator skin boots were still out of my price range last time I checked, the article said the prices were once $60 a foot and now are $15 a foot, It seems to me if the prices dropped, sales would increase, customers always looking for a good deal.Has anyone noticed a drop in prices of finished goods?

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from shane wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Great point, RJ. Gator skin boots have most definitely not become cheaper. Putting the screws to the customer as well as to the little man that keeps them in business.

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from jamesti wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

you'd think someone would get a clue. less trapping of gators will lead to more dangerous encounters.

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from dighunter wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I run a trap line in the winter and prices are so low, that you have to do it as a hobby. Their isn't any money in trapping. This past season prices were about twice what they were the previous year. I made enough trapping to pay for my hunting and fishing liscenses and tags, while putting about $100 in my pocket. Not quite enough to cover the gas to set and run the traps. Although it is a lot of fun, it has gone the way of many outdoors pursuites and is relinquished to merely a hobby in this area.

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from seadog wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

This story makes me sad. I think Johnny Douglas is doing the right thing from a financial standpoint, but I hate to see it happen. (BTW, I don't know him so I'm not just saying this to stick up for a friend.) I got an e-mail from FWC a few months ago looking for applicants for nuisance alligator trappers--the job Mr. Douglas was doing. I want the job, but didn't apply because I thought I'd be lucky to do much better than break even and I need to earn a living. If I didn't need the money, it would be my kind of job. I hope Johnny Douglas does OK--I hate to see guys doing real work get tossed aside by this over-civilized world we now live in.

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from RJ Arena wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

What have the prices dropped to? Alligator skin boots were still out of my price range last time I checked, the article said the prices were once $60 a foot and now are $15 a foot, It seems to me if the prices dropped, sales would increase, customers always looking for a good deal.Has anyone noticed a drop in prices of finished goods?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Great point, RJ. Gator skin boots have most definitely not become cheaper. Putting the screws to the customer as well as to the little man that keeps them in business.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

you'd think someone would get a clue. less trapping of gators will lead to more dangerous encounters.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from dighunter wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I run a trap line in the winter and prices are so low, that you have to do it as a hobby. Their isn't any money in trapping. This past season prices were about twice what they were the previous year. I made enough trapping to pay for my hunting and fishing liscenses and tags, while putting about $100 in my pocket. Not quite enough to cover the gas to set and run the traps. Although it is a lot of fun, it has gone the way of many outdoors pursuites and is relinquished to merely a hobby in this area.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from seadog wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

This story makes me sad. I think Johnny Douglas is doing the right thing from a financial standpoint, but I hate to see it happen. (BTW, I don't know him so I'm not just saying this to stick up for a friend.) I got an e-mail from FWC a few months ago looking for applicants for nuisance alligator trappers--the job Mr. Douglas was doing. I want the job, but didn't apply because I thought I'd be lucky to do much better than break even and I need to earn a living. If I didn't need the money, it would be my kind of job. I hope Johnny Douglas does OK--I hate to see guys doing real work get tossed aside by this over-civilized world we now live in.

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