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Alligators & Human Nature

By Roy D. Follendore III

Copyright (c) 2001 by RDFollendoreIII


June 24, 2001

The alligator is a wonderful thing. It has existed for what it is for tens of millions of years.  But an alligator is neither good nor bad even though the death of an innocent child by an gator is a tragedy. In the summer of 1983 as I was getting onto an Interstate along the eastern coast of the Carolinas, as a Captain in the Army I was still in my military uniform saw a group of people standing in the middle of a exit ramp.  I thought it was an accident so I turned around to see if I could help. What I saw amazed me for in the middle of that exit ramp was a huge 17 or 18 foot alligator blocking a tractor trailer rig and a couple of automobiles and a camper.  About ten kids and their parents and more continuing to stop had already walked to within three feet of the creature.  When I got there they were occasionally letting the older kids poke sticks at it so that it would hiss and move.  

As a young man I had been night fishing with my Father in the Okeefenokee swamp so I have had the personal opportunity to have seen and appreciate these creatures in action within nature.  If you are fishing with set hooks they follow your boat all night looking for opportunities to get your catch before you get there and the bait after you leave.  Knowing that alligators can easily outrun a person in a short distance, I told everyone to back away.  It wasn't so much that I thought the old gator would intentionally want to grab someone in its jaws and have dinner as the fact that I knew that on land that tail could easily break a full grown mans legs in a split second. Certain actions by gators are automatic, kind of like the way that your leg will jerk when you Doctor taps your knee to test your reflexes.  I knew that what this old gator wanted was a hot rock to digest its last dinner of various swamp creatures and that was why it had decided to park its ancient belly on the concrete of the ramp.  The long and the short of it was, that I eventually was able to arrange the Ranger of  the adjacent Federal Wildlife refuge to come and pick up this pleasant and well mannered fellow without any harm to himself or to the ignorant human beings tormenting him.  The Ranger told me that "Bubba" was a regular.  Every year they take him to the other side of the park and every year he eats his way back to the ramp with his belly full.  

I tell you this story because this Saturday in Winter Haven, Fla. a 2-year-old girl was found dead in a lake.   The police say they believe she may have been killed by an alligator.  Gary Morse, the local state Fish and Wildlife spokesman said the little girl had bites on her arms and right thigh and a broken left arm -- injuries consistent with an alligator attack.  You see, Alexandria Murphy was left  wandering around in her family's back yard. A sheriff's deputy found her body near the Lake Cannon shore.  No one evidently actually saw an alligator because no one was watching the little girl.  The girl could have drowned, and then been bitten, authorities said. An autopsy was scheduled Monday.  In the typical fit of human revenge and morality a commission trapper working for Gary later caught and killed the 6-feet-long gator suspected in the attack. Eleven people have died in gator attacks in the last 50 years in Florida. The most recent death, a 71-year-old Sarasota man, occurred last month.  That is far less than the number of people killed in Florida by lightening strikes.

The fact is that parents have to be neglectful to allow their 2 year old baby to go as she pleases, even for a moment. Alligators are equipped by nature to do exactly what they need to do to survive.  It is the nature of all animals to be capable of survival but within this modern world it seems that parents would rather teach their children that television cartoons are real and reality is a cartoon.  That all snakes are bad.  And, when too many birds gather on their way south they must be killed. We must spray insecticide over or our forests, our crops and our lawns because insects should be eliminated.  When we move our homes into forests we must cut the trees to make it a prairie and eliminate all other creatures who might compete.  Far too many children are brought up in the perfect sheltered world of America's suburbs; dogs and cats should not bite people and animals should not kill for their food because in our eyes it is morally incorrect for them to do so.  

In this century we have been led to believe that there is supposed to be a right and wrong for everything and everything has been moralized. Maybe the ultimate fallacy of the Judeo-Christian ethics is that we must assume the responsibility of a God over everything and everything must have a right and a wrong attached to it. It is a simple lie that we are feeding our children, and in doing so literally feeding our children and grandchildren to nature.  Nothing can be allowed to rest as exactly what it is and as it always will be, neither good nor bad.  Nothing can be allowed to remain a wonder. If a problem does not exist then mankind must create problems so that man may justify its existence as a proportion of the problems solved.




Copyright (c) 2001-2007 RDFollendoreIII All Rights Reserved