ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Wildlife officials have removed 250 alligators from Disney properties in the five years since a 2-year-old boy was killed by an alligator at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, a newspaper reported .
The company worked with trappers hired through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to remove alligators, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Most of the harmful gators removed from Disney properties are euthanized and sold for their skin and meat, wildlife agency spokesperson Tammy Sapp told the newspaper.
Some are also being moved to alligator farms, animal shows and zoos, she said. Those under 4 feet (1.2 meters) are being relocated, she said.
Trappers receive $ 30 for each alligator captured, as well as the proceeds of any leather and meat sold, the newspaper reported.
After Lane Thomas Graves’ death in June 2016, Disney put up a wall and put up reptile warning signs along the waterways of its resorts.
Disney guests have said they are happy the resort is proactively removing gators from its properties. An expert in biology agreed, adding that the removals should have minimal impact on the Florida alligator population.
Gina Parsley, owner of a travel agency, told the Sentinel her family stayed at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort last month and her 9-year-old daughter Gabriella spotted an alligator in the water. They informed a campsite employee and were told that traps had been set to trap the alligator.
“We didn’t feel like it was a surprise to them,” Parsley said. “I would have been more worried if my daughter had brought it to their attention and they were like, ‘Oh my God, where? “”
Parsley said she understands how difficult it is to keep the property free from alligators.
“You see neighborhoods where an alligator is walking on someone’s lawn and ringing the doorbell,” she said. “This is Florida: they do that. So, there is definitely a fight against nature with that one.
Florida’s alligator population is around 1.3 million, the newspaper reported. To be considered a nuisance under the Statewide Nuisance Alligator program, an alligator must be at least 1.2 meters in length and pose a threat to people, pets and property.
The wildlife agency has removed nearly 8,000 alligators per year for the past five years across the state of Florida.
Removing the harmful Disney gators doesn’t have much of an impact on people since they already live there on developed land, Deby Cassill, associate campus chair in Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida, told Sentinel. .
“This has already been compromised by development,” Cassill said.
Sapp said there have been three fatal alligator attacks since 2016 in Florida and no incidents of biting have been reported to Disney since Lane’s death.
Cassill said the attack that killed the toddler happened during alligator mating season. As the waters warm, the males seek out the females and the females seek food. She said it was wise for Disney to put up barriers on the property and uproot the reptiles.
“I don’t see any harm in removing and euthanizing some of the alligators that are able to do what they normally do, which is find food,” Cassill said. “We want to keep them as far away from children and pets as possible. “
The boy’s parents, Matt and Melissa Graves of Omaha, Nebraska, founded the Lane Thomas Foundation to help families with children in need of organ transplants to save lives.
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