The Wrath of Hurricane Katrina
This year will represent the worst hatch from all properties harvested in the 18 years that Insta-Gator has harvested alligator eggs. The eggs were there, they just weren't healthy. We believe that the salt water pushed in by Hurricane Katrina was a problem, but the bigger problem was the lack of rain, during the following 10 months. It was this rain that was necessary to flush the marshes with fresh water. This left alligators very unhealthy. The wild harvest in September, when hunters harvest 30,000 or more alligators each year, produced many skinny and unhealthy wild alligators from the eastern and western portions of the state. These areas also produced unhealthy eggs that alligator ranchers like Insta-Gator Ranch ultimately picked up.
Of the lands closest to the Gulf, nearly thirty percent (30%) of eggs harvested died in the 3rd trimester. Typically we see less than one percent (1%) die in the 3rd trimester. In the more inland areas, seven percent (7%) died in the 3rd trimester, while only one percent (1%) died as we harvested from the most inland properties.
This year sixteen percent (16%) of all eggs hatched from the marshes closest to the Gulf were immediately put into our Intensive Care Unit. These alligators would not have survived in the wild because most could not even swim. Some could swim, but could not get out of the water because their belly was so large that their feet could not touch the ground. We see this every year, but it is a trait that occurs less than one percent (1%) of the time. The more inland properties that are still susceptible to salt water intrusion saw a 7% ICU occurrence, while the properties most inland saw a 1% ICU occurrence.
Overall, Insta-Gator Ranch hatched about 60% of our typical annual hatch and I suspect this will be typical of many other Ranchers in the state. The alligator population in Louisiana was effected dramatically, but we are confident that they will bounce back strong and rapidly. Bottom Line: In the overall scheme of things, all Louisianans, including gators are beginning a rapid road to recovery.