TAMPA - Florida Fish and Wildlife officials got an earful of frustration at a meeting Wednesday afternoon in Tampa. On hand were many veteran alligator trappers, upset with the State's relatively new regulations for capturing nuisance alligators.
Florida has a Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program, or SNAP, that helps oversee the alligator trappers in the state.
The program, implemented a number of years ago, is now starting to hit home with veteran gator trappers and those at today's meeting at the DoubleTree hotel in Tampa were not double talking when the voiced their concern.
The main issues were twofold. The first being customer ratings. SNAP requires 90% customer satisfaction which many of those at the meeting felt was far too high. And in some cases following poor reviews, their gator trapping areas have been reduced making it harder to make a living.
But FWC spokesman Harry Dutton would tell me most of the trappers, 87%, have met the high standard they set and he would go on saying, "We're not going to cut down anyone's workload unless they are not doing their job. And then those new people who are coming on board are coming on board with a clear understanding that their workload is never going to be high."
Which was another concern voiced by many trappers. The state now has close to 116 trappers doing the job 40 used to do.
And the long-time veterans say, given the cost of doing business, equipment, the price of gas, etc., when they are only paid $30 by the state for a gator, and right now can't get a solid price for a gator hide because demand is down, making a living gator trapping is no living at all.
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UPDATE: The National Weather Service says the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma, was a top-of-the-scale EF-5 twister with winds of at least 200 mph.