Both the number of alligator hunters and the price of alligator skins have risen slightly since last year’s record low season.
While buying skinned alligator hides at Cypress Pride in Catahoula Thursday, Raphael Sagrera, who owns a gator farm in Abbeville, said like last year, this year’s season has started off slowly.
“We usually do more,” Sagrera said of the average number of gators per day being brought to Cypress Pride by area gator farmers. “The only reason it’s better this year is because they’re out hunting.”
Steven Gresham, who works as a skinner for Cypress Pride, said so far this season the company has skinned and cleaned between 80 and 150 hides per day, about 750 total gators.
Noel Kinler, the alligator program manager for the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said since the season started — Aug. 25 in the area east of the Atchafalaya Basin Levee and Sept. 1 for the area west of the Atchafalaya Basin Levee — 32,000 licenses have been issued, 1,970 of those going to gator hunters and farmers in Iberia, St. Martin, St. Mary and Vermilion parishes.
Last year, Kinler said only 24,000 licenses were issued, while in pervious years the number has varied between 32,000 and 36,000 per season.
Likewise, the price per foot dropped from $34 per foot in 2008 to around $7 and $8 per foot last year.
This year, the price is hovering between $11 and $12 per foot, Kinler said.
“Whether alligator farmers or wild alligator hunters, the whole alligator industry has gone through extensively tough times over the last 18 to 20 months,” he said.
“It’s related to the economic recession experienced in the U.S. and the world economic recession … but at least it seems the markets are recovering so we’re anticipating a much better season than last year.”
In the western zone, the harvest season is scheduled to end Sept. 23, and Sept. 30 in the eastern zone.