This edition of the Louisiana Conservationist focuses on a species near and dear to many in the state: The American alligator.

There are more alligators in the wild in Louisiana – a conservative estimate has it about 2 million - than any other state. Alligators are an important part of Louisiana’s economy. An economic study by LSU estimates that the alligator industry is worth than $250 million economically to the state each year. That didn’t happen overnight. It’s the result of a lot of hard work by LDWF, its partners and alligator farmers in our state. It all started in back in the 1960s when the alligator population here had dwindled to an estimated 100,000, the result of decades of over-harvest dating back to the 1800s. As LDWF worked to restore alligator populations in the 1960s, it also realized it would have to develop a process to make sure the species would flourish. In 1972, LDWF came up with a sustainable-use program that has benefitted the alligator exponentially. More than 1.1 million alligators have been harvested from the wild and 7.3 million farm-raised alligators have been sold, since the early 1970s.

The success of this program can be attributed to the many different partners – private coastal landowners, farmers, LDWF biologists and technicians in our alligator programs and others - coming together to make sure the alligator thrives and contributes to our economy. Detailing the process isn’t possible in one brief. However, the articles in this edition tell the story of the alligator in Louisiana, from research, to farming, to harvest and habitat.

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