See You Later, Beach Alligator
Posted on 05.21.14 by Danny Glover @ 9:18 pm

Five years ago, a mama skunk built her den under our house. We smelled skunk odors for weeks but didn’t realize why until one late-spring night when we watched her haul her babies out from under our house and move them to a new home down the street.

That new home happened to be right next to the office of a city councilman, so we warned him about the family of skunks living nearby. That’s when he told us we live in a city that is overrun with skunks. He told us the story of some neighbors who asked the city to remove a skunk but then were horrified to learn that the pest controllers euthanized the skunk instead of trapping and relocating it.

This misplaced concern for a smelly rodent baffled me. Why fret over the fate of an animal they obviously didn’t want as a neighbor? If they cared that much, why didn’t they catch and release the skunk themselves (obviously a rhetorical question)?

It’s a skunk, people. Get over it!

I thought of that controversy today while reading about a large alligator that surprised beachgoers near Charleston, S.C., and the outrage that ensued when an alligator expert executed the monster in public. Those sensitive souls weren’t thankful to have a threat to their own safety eliminated; they were angry that a gun-toting animal control officer had the gall to kill the alligator in front of them.

The officer, Ray Covington, explained his decision to the The Post & Courier: The alligator was too large and sick to relocate; moving it to kill it elsewhere would have been dangerous; and it was big enough to tear off a person’s leg with one bite.

But the people who feared the alligator enough to report it in the first place weren’t convinced. “Out of nowhere we hear this shot,” one woman said. “Nobody expected this to happen. It was just a little shocking. … I walked away because I didn’t want to stick around and watch.”

How did we become a society so delicate that people can’t watch a deadly animal die? When did the sound of a gunshot become so traumatic that we can’t even bear the sound if the weapon is fired to ensure personal safety? And when did one animal become so important that its life matters as much as the humans sharing its environment?

It’s an alligator, people. Get over it!

UPDATE (May 21): The spineless bureaucrats in the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources have canceled Covington’s contract. He doesn’t seem to mind because the work didn’t pay well, but he had some parting words for the people who complained: “If you have not been out in field to work with [alligators], you don’t need to open your mouth.”

Filed under: Hunting & Guns and News & Politics and Wildlife
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