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With Big Daddy gone, river won’t be the same

Published: November 2, 2013

I’d like to put a name on the alligator that was tethered and then slaughtered in the Hillsborough River last week. I have been calling this incredible reptile “Big Daddy” for more than two years now. I am retired and kayak the river usually twice a week, removing litter. I have been within a few feet of Big Daddy, taken many photos and even some video as I paddled downstream with him. Never once have I been threatened by him, or any other alligator for that matter. It has always amazed me how some folks take delight in killing a creature this majestic and especially this old.

They say these animals are dangerous in order to justify hunting and killing them. There have been fewer than 20 deaths by alligators in Florida the past 60 years! Contrast that with the fact that Floridians kill their fellow human beings, on average, more than 1,000 times each year.

Being near Big Daddy could raise your pulse to be sure, but observing and photographing this great beast was a joy for me. The river will never be quite so interesting now that he is gone. Big Daddy now joins Big Al in St. Petersburg as victims of human cruelty.

Thanks, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, for being on the wrong side of wildlife conservation once again.

Bob Luce