University Park, Pa. -- Owners of alligator farms and ranches may soon have a new tool to aid in making critical economic decisions and to optimize alligator farm profitability and sustainability, according to Penn State economists.
"Little formal work has been done on the economics of the alligator industry," says Jerry Heykoop, graduate student in agricultural economics. "We would like to show that sound economic management can benefit both alligator farmers and the wild populations."
While American alligators were once on the endangered species list, they are again abundant in the coastal southeastern United States. However, because Black caiman and American crocodile hide look like alligator hide, American alligators are listed as threatened and all alligator products must bear a tag indicating that they are really alligator.
The watch bands, shoes, boots, suitcases and wallets made from alligator for sale in upscale stores across the country could have come from farmed alligators or wild alligators in Louisiana or Florida.
In 1996 the Louisiana alligator industry was a $12 million farming enterprise and an $8.7 million dollar hunting effort. In 1995 in Florida, $3.9 million came from farming and $5.3 million came from hunting.
Heykoop and Dr. Darren Frechette, assistant professor of agricultural economics, presented their dynamic economic model of the alligator industry today (June 26) to attendees at the 1999 joint annual meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, American Elasmobranch Society, Herpetologist's League and the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles held at the University Park campus.
Unlike other agricultural areas, no difference exists between wild and
farmed populations and farmers often take egg clutches from the wild to
compensate for the poor breeding behavior of captive alligators. In Louisiana, a
portion of the alligators th
Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer