Do resident alligators get an HOA vote?
In early January, a cold front covered most of the continental US. Florida was not immune to the chill, and many of the animals living even in central and southern Florida were faced with situations far from the ordinary.
(not actual alligator from story)
In a large community of over 400 homes, one Board President of the owners association reached out to me for help expressing her position regarding the requests of several residents to "remove" the resident alligator. The following is the email that we composed:
It has been brought to my attention that one of our resident gators has moved to the corner of _____ and _____ and is roaming the area.
Several residents have voiced concern over its presence.
I understand why some residents may be concerned; however, I do not agree with the desire to have this native animal removed from his rightful home and slaughtered. I have spoken with the officials and to be clear, the ONLY option from the "officials" is to have this native animal captured and killed, so that then they may profit by selling the hide and meat.
The officials require that the Board President sign to allow the capture and I am not comfortable doing so.
Please take a moment to consider the following facts:
1. The Florida Alligator is a native species, and everyone living in Florida made the decision to become neighbors with this species upon moving to the area.
2. This neighborhood backs up to a State Park, where there are dozens if not hundreds of other gators living in interconnected water ways.
3. This gator has been living in this neighborhood for years, and only now because of the severe cold has the gator moved to a more visible location.
4. The gator likely moved only because of the cold, to access more sunlight so as not freeze to death. Once the temperatures warm up, the gator will most likely return to the other more secluded pond on the property
5. Should this alligator be removed and killed, the pond that is its home will then be vacant prime alligator real estate. This means, that another alligator, and potentially an even larger one, will inevitably move in to its place. This is the key rule of nature: where there is an ideal environment for an animal to live, an animal will live there. Trappers know this, and take advantage of humans who are not educated on the behavior of wildlife. Removing wild animals is literally a self-reproducing business.
6. It is the responsibility of all residents in any neighborhood that shares a border with a nature preserve or state park to remain vigilant and well educated on how to avoid potentially dangerous encounters with the native wildlife.
7. This neighborhood has demonstrated a great love of nature and ability to adapt to humane methods of coexisting with other species, it is my great hope that this situation will be no different.
8. There are fewer than a dozen incidents between gators and humans in Florida on average per year, with a total population of 1.25 million gators and 20.61 million people in the state. Of these incidents, most if not all involved people encroaching on breeding space with many alligators. This is not that type of situation.
I have asked _____ to add additional signage to our neighborhood and to write a post for our website, and send an e-blast to emails on file.
Please respond with your thoughts.
Thank you all,