Committee of the Islands

Keeping Sanibel Special Since 1975

Why Alligators Are Important

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December 02, 2011

ISLAND SUN - DECEMBER 2 , 2011 18 included the barrier islands of Sanibel and other wildlife . the water . Serage reminds people who Why Alligators Captiva . • They are sentries for nesting birds . are disturbed by an alligator basking in Alligator numbers were severely Birds will nest in trees and brush over the the sun that during the winter months Are Important – reduced by humans in the 1960s and water so that predators such as raccoons alligators are not eating . Their body tem - ‘ 70s by contamination of their natural must reach the nest by water and risk peratures must be at 72 degrees to eat . And How To habitat , by harvesting them for meat and becoming alligator food . Because they are cold - blooded reptiles , hides , by increasing agricultural and indus - • Alligator nests are sometimes shared the sun is important to keep their tem - Live With Them trial development , and by the perceived by turtles that lay their eggs in the lower peratures up . Many go for three to four threat to the safety of humans . The fed - section of the nest to incubate in optimal months and up to six months without by Ruth Woodham , eral government listed alligators as endan - levels of temperature and moisture plus eating during the colder winter months . Board Member , gered in 1970 , and by 1987 they were being guarded by a fierce mother gator . According to her , practically all negative Committee of the declared recovered but threatened . • If harvested legally under proper encounters occur in the summer months . Islands In Florida the animal was classified as licenses and permits issued by the Florida • Alligators make terrible pets . It is ote : In “ threatened ” in 1974 and down - listed Fish & wildlife Conservation Commission , illegal to possess or take an alligator a series to “ species of special concern ” in 1979 . alligators provide a source of food and without the proper licenses and permits . Nof recent Dee Serage Century , a wildlife expert income to some who would otherwise be Alligators are purely instinctual hunters commentaries , at the Sanibel - Captiva Conservation unable to support themselves . The cur - and do not show affection . Alligators will Committee of the Foundation , includes a comprehensive rent reality TV program Swamp People never love the hand that feeds them . Islands has drawn history of alligators on Sanibel in her is an example . For an unfortunate exam - 3 . Respect the unique and special attention to the wildlife presentations at the SCCF facility . ple of illegal misuse , readers are referred nature of Sanibel as a barrier sanctuary fact that report - Serage is also available to talk to home - to Charles LeBuff’s Sanybel Light , island . ing a “ nuisance alligator ” here on owners associations that share their prop - Chapter16 , The ’ Gator War . LeBuff • From the very beginning Sanibel Sanibel usually results in the destruc - erty with alligators . Anyone who has not describes leading a group of Audubon has always been described as special and tion ( killing ) of the animal , not in its heard her speak is encouraged to check Society birders on a field trip along the unique . Official recognition of Sanibel and relocation . Here we explore how and SCCF for her talks at the facility as well Sanibel River in October 1965 when buz - Captiva’s uniqueness occurred in 1939 why we should learn to live with these as her availability to speak to individual zards alerted them to a poacher’s kill . He when the Florida Legislature passed a remarkable creatures . groups . uncovered 29 alligator carcasses , all from Special Act ( Chapter 1936 ) to establish Alligators first appeared on earth Three Keys to Living With animals four to seven feet in length . a Game and Fish Refuge for the islands around 35 million years ago , but only two Alligators 2 . Be alert to the possibility of their of Sanibel and Captiva . Following this species remain in the world today : the 1 . Understand the ecological role that presence . designation , the Sanibel National Wildlife American and Chinese alligator . alligators play in the environment . • Alligators can occur anywhere there Refuge was designated in 1945 to include American alligators are found through - • The alligator’s importance to its envi - is water . Although they prefer fresh water , all of Sanibel . out the southeastern United States , ronment is so high that it is referred to they have been found in brackish water The state continued to sell off pieces including a large population in Florida . as a “ keystone species . ” It can eat practi - and marine salt water . Never wade , swim of the nearly 2,000 acres of state - owned Having shared the habitat with the dino - cally any prey , helping to regulate animal or fish in waters where large alligators are land on Sanibel . Various environmental saurs and survived some major planetary populations . Too many of any species likely to occur , especially at dusk or night . groups took up the cause to preserve the events , alligators began facing the great - places burdens on other populations and • Never feed alligators ; it is illegal . land over the years until the J.N . “ Ding ” est challenge to their survival early in the on parts of the habitat . Normally alligators avoid humans , but Darling National Wildlife Refuge was dedi - 20th century - - with the ever - increasing • During dry seasons ( especially in the alligators that have been fed lose their cated on February 4 , 1978 . Because of migration of humans to the warmer Everglades ) gators dig water holes that natural fear of humans and associate this legacy as a special sanctuary island , climates in the southeastern states . This provide essential habitats for fish and them with food . Feeding changes alligator Sanibel residents incorporated as a city in behavior and they may become danger - 1974 to protect the island from overde - ous . velopment . A comprehensive history of • Keep children and pets away from Sanibel Island , its lighthouse , the National water’s edge wherever alligators are Wildlife Refuge and the early pioneers likely to be present . Do not allow dogs to who made it all possible is recorded in R swim or explore waters that are known Charles LeBuff’s book , Sanybel Light , to have alligators . Keep dogs on a leash published in 1998 by Amber Publishing , A G when walking them . There are far more Sanibel . R W alligator attacks on dogs than on humans • On September 3 , 1996 , the mostly because of the size of the potential Sanibel Plan was amended to include the I prey . Keep cats indoors . Sanibel Vision Statement with Ordinance L • Mating season for alligators occurs # 96 - 06 ; it was reinforced in March B from mid - April through May . After build - 2007 , when a referendum to include L ing a nest in a sheltered spot in or near the statement in the city charter was A water the female alligator lays her eggs , passed by the voters . The Sanibel Vision R which incubate in about 65 days . Be Statement’s definition of sanctuary states ® aware of this period and avoid nests and that : “ Sanibel is and shall remain a bar - recently hatched gators . Their mothers rier island Sanctuary , one in which a are very protective . diverse population lives in harmony with SEAFOOD • It is rare for an alligator to chase the island’s wildlife and natural habitats . humans unless they are near its nest or The Sanibel community must be vigilant threaten it in some other way . If the ani - in the protection and enhancement of its IF OUR SEAFOOD WERE ANY FRESHER , mal makes an aggressive charge , run fast sanctuary characteristics . ” Alligators are WE WOULD BE SERVING IT UNDER WATER and straight . Alligators have sharp claws included ! and powerful tails to help them push their Committee of the Islands welcomes bodies up . Fences for protection should your input on this subject . Email your THE LAZY FLAMINGO LAZY FLAMINGO 2 be more than 4.5 feet tall . Do not clear comments to coti @ coti.org . You can the landscape to the water’s edge where find commentaries on other island Beautiful Downtown Sanibel Beautiful Downtown Santiva alligators are known to be . Planting tall issues on our website at coti.org . You 1036 Periwinkle Way 6520 - C Pine Avenue grasses or other vegetation will serve as can also visit Committee of the Islands 472 - 6939 a barrier to discourage them from leaving on Facebook . 472 - 5353 LAZY FLAMINGO 4 LAZY FLAMINGO 3 12951 McGregor Boulevard 16501 Stringfellow Road Fort Myers Bokeelia Our email address is press @ islandsunnews.com 476 - 9000 283 - 5959

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