Wednesday, June 29, 2016

ReloGatorin'


Slightly misspelled name, but it still counts
We're talkin' gators at Big Cypress.
Last Thursday I participated in UTV training outside of BICY headquarters. I learned how to drive and handle Utility Task Vehicles, an important tool used by the staff to patrol and maintain the backcountry. In addition to a (thrilling) online course beforehand, I had about 4 hours of practical training and am now officially certified to drive in our upcoming backcountry trip.
On the same day, I was called to assist my supervisor, Ranger Drew Hughes, in relocating an alligator that had become troublesome near one of the campgrounds. With the assistance of the resource management division the gator was drawn out of the water and had a snare fastened around its neck. After the gator wore itself out a towel was thrown over its head to calm it down, then the resource management biologist Annette Johnson hopped on the gator’s back to hold its jaws closed. Using ropes and duct tape we then restrained its mouth, tail, arms, and legs in descending order of danger. Rendered fully immobile, it was placed onto a board and into an RM truck.

Well-contained alligator
After we reached the designated release location, a ranger substation called Go-lightlys, the gator board was taken out of the truck and placed next to the water. The resource management specialist again got on the gator’s back and the restraints were cut in the reverse order they were placed on, at which point we all quickly, but gracefully, hopped back. In order to encourage the gator to get back into the water paintballs were fired at its tail, for marking purposes as well. This was ineffective, as the gator appeared to barely feel them, so we resorted to a good old fashioned stick-poking, which worked wonders. The alligator was released happily back into the water, hopefully staying away from campsites in the future. This was obviously an incredible experience to be a part of and it showed me one of the wide range of activities LE rangers can be called on to do, in addition to showcasing great teamwork between park divisions.

Backcountry Check Station
I closed out the week by going solo and collecting data from the backcountry entry points, to be used in trail decisions in the future.

Keep an eye out for Program Manager Tony Luongo’s blog on his visit here to Big Cypress this past weekend, it should be a good one.


1 comment:

  1. "good old fashioned stick-poking"

    Classic move.

    ReplyDelete