The Wildlife Officers Trying to Get Florida’s Human-Alligator Conflicts Under Control

In light of the tragic story of the alligator attack on a toddler at a Florida Disney resort, The New York Times has republished Andrew Revkin’s 1988 story from Discover magazine about how human-alligator conflicts in Florida began to rise as the population in the state steadily increased and homes were built “on terrain that is transmogrified swamp”:

As increasing numbers of northerners flee to the Sunshine State, development is rapidly spreading inland from the state’s sparkling shores toward its flat, wet, sparsely populated interior. Ranks of expensive homes, often surrounding private golf courses and chains of man-made ponds, are being built on terrain that is transmogrified swamp.

With the help of a network of 14 professional trappers, [Lieutenant Dick] Lawrence, the alligator coordinator for a large swath of south Florida, responds to complaints ranging from alligators threatening pets to alligators in swimming pools. (“Usually, when they end up in pools, it’s somebody pulling a prank,” Lawrence says.)

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