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Texas mayor vs PETA on alligator attack

by Margaret Stewart | copy editor
Tue, Oct 2nd 2018 10:00 pm

The southern region of the United States is often associated with the shining sun, extreme heat, and alligators that lurk within the majority of waterways crisscrossing the landscape. These prehistoric lizards are as common in some places as deer are on the campus at The College at Brockport. 

However, when most people think of alligators they think of the Everglades in Florida, not of Texas where Mayor Judy Cochran, at 73-years-old, shot and killed a 12-foot, 580-pound giant because she thought it ate her miniature horse that went missing a few years ago. 

Alligators are not uncommon in Texas. In research done in 2010, Shannon Tompkins roughly estimated that there were around 400,000 alligators in Texas alone. That was eight years ago and their population continues to thrive.

“You can’t just go shoot an alligator because it’s there,” Cochran explained by referencing the strict regulations that surround the hunting of alligators. She insisted that the hunt was done legally. According to The Washington Post, out of all of the counties in Texas, Polk County is one of the few with a hunting season designated specifically for alligators. In fact, Anahuac, Tex. is the home of Gatorfest which, according to getaway.10best.com, is the “annual celebration of all things gator” and is held during the alligator hunting season. The season runs from September 10 – September 30, is just drawing to its close and, as Cochran pointed out, she has a permit to hunt on her property.

However, though she had a permit in hand, it wasn’t until the gator was caught that Cochran admits she quickly applied for the hunting license. The license itself is a point of contention for many, more specifically, the People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). One of the main reasons for this is because up until 34 years ago, both  alligators and  crocodiles were considered endangered species. In fact, PETA  was so concerned with the maltreatment of these animals they conducted an investigation into the market for hunting alligators and crocodiles and claimed that both animals were being farmed for over-extravagant purposes.

PETA’s site spotlights the mistreatment of the beasts on an international scale. However, interestingly enough, out of all of the places that PETA could cover, there is a section specifically dedicated to the treatment of alligators in Texas. PETA investigators reported an “alligator factory that sends skins to a Hermès-owned tannery.” 

PETA claims, one of the many factories that supplies Hermès with skins grossly mistreats the animals. 

“Investigators found alligators kept in fetid water and dank, dark sheds without sunshine, fresh air, clean water, or even basic medical care,” reported PETA. 

Hermès, is a French based fashion line that carries everything from watches to luggage.  The price range is vast when it comes to the value of its luxury goods. For example, on hermes.com, under its “Women’s Bags and Clutches” category, one could buy a pouch for as little as $550, a leather bag strap (that little accessory that allows women to carry their purse hands free) for $1,050, or its alligator skin bag for $30,400. 

After their removal from the Endangered Species List in 1984, the hunting and egg collecting of alligators has flourished into a multi-million-dollar business. With prices like that, it is easy to see how the farming of alligators as well as crocodiles could lead to abuse and why both animals were on the Endangered Species List. 

Nevertheless, armed with racoon carcasses and her shotgun, Cochran, along with some family and friends, set the trap on the night of Sunday, Sept. 16. Despite her choice to kill the animal rather than relocate it, Cochran plans to insure the spoils do not go to waste. The alligator was sent to a taxidermist while Cochran and her family plan to eat the meat which, according to Cochran, tastes “kind of like chicken nuggets.”

 

mstew7@brockport.edu | @margotpolo96