Alligator-human tensions are on the rise.
We didn't used to have such a big problem with humans. From 1971 to 1986, alligators in Florida only bit humans about six times a year. For a while, it seemed like our two species had brokered a temporary peace agreement.
But the humans can't keep peace among themselves anymore, let alone with us reptiles. Britain went through with Brexit, and Americans are talking about building a wall at the Mexican border. So perhaps it's no surprise that interspecies conflicts are ramping up. Now, alligators are biting about 10 Floridians a year. And, as we all know, it's all thanks to human aggression."Using simple pairwise linear regression, we found that only human population size was a reliable predictor of alligator attack rates in Florida during the period 1988-2016," explained Morgan Golden-Ebanks and Adam E. Rosenblatt, a couple scientists who wrote a study on the subject. "As a result, management of human-alligator conflict should focus on limiting human-alligator interactions and preventing the further development of areas used by alligators."
As humans keep building houses and businesses in alligator homes, we get agitated — and hungry. One homeless human woman was taking a midnight bath in a lake when an alligator bit her arm, trying to drag her underwater. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is now offering tips like "Swim only in designated swimming areas during daylight hours."
However humans spin it, we know this isn't really about us alligators. This is one battle in the territory war between humans and everybody else. The hairless apes are already using nearly half the surface of the planet for farmland.
“We are basically destroying the planet for our own survival,” Navin Ramankutty, an agricultural geographer at the University of British Columbia, told me. “This is not very sustainable.”
That means other species are constantly getting displaced and dying off. This loss of biodiversity is leading to what some scientists are calling the Sixth Great Extinction — it's right there with the dinosaurs, our less successful cousins, dying off.
“That's a huge footprint,” added Ramankutty.
It's going to take a lot more than designated swimming areas to bring this war to a truce.