Disney has reportedly cleared 250 alligators from Disney World and its other Florida properties since an alligator killed a 2-year-old boy at the Grand Floridian Resort five years ago.
The Mouse House worked with trappers contracted through a state wildlife agency to remove the big, toothy reptiles, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Disney pays trappers $30 for every captured gator plus the proceeds from any leather and meat sold, the newspaper said.
According to Tammy Sapp, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, most of the gators taken from Disney properties are euthanized and sold for their hide and meat.
Those that measure less than 4 feet are allowed to live and are transferred to alligator farms, animal exhibits and zoos, she said. Alligators over 4 feet are considered a nuisance and pose a threat to people, pets and property, according to the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program.
After Lane Thomas Graves was killed in June 2016, Disney added signs warning guests of reptiles in its waterways and built a boulder wall along the edge of the lagoon.
Florida’s alligator population is about 1.3 million, the Sentinel said, adding that the wildlife agency has removed close to 8,000 alligators annually over the past five years throughout the state of Florida.
Sapp said there have been three fatal alligator attacks since 2016 in Florida and no reported bite incidents at Disney since Graves’ death.
Deby Cassill, the integrative biology associate campus chair at the University of South Florida, told the Sentinel that the attack that killed Graves happened during alligator mating season. As waters warm, males look for females and females search for food.
Cassill applauded Disney for placing barriers on the property and added that removing nuisance gators doesn’t have much of an impact on the overall gator population.
“I don’t see a harm in removing and euthanizing some of the alligators that are in positions to do what they normally do and that is to find food,” Cassill said. “We want to keep them away from children and pets as much as possible.”