If You Can’t Wear It On Your Feet, Eat It On Your Plate

It seems the recession has stopped your uncle and aunty from buying their gator shoes and handbags. Can anything be done to save the gator industry? Yes, but only if you have an appetite.


Have you noticed that your neighborhood pimp and/or gaudy area deacon hasn’t been steezing on these heathens the way they used to?

That’s because they along with other connoisseurs of alligator accessories have scaled back on their need for reptile wear.

USA Today published a report on how the global economic recession has affected the American alligator industry:

A drop in world demand for designer gator-skin handbags, watch straps and belts has caused an unprecedented decline in the American alligator industry, said Mark Shirley, coastal resources specialist at the Louisiana State University AgCenter.

Louisiana gator farmers harvest around 80% of the world market of American alligator skins, Shirley said. The pelts just last year were part of a $70 million annual business, used for everything from $4,000 Gucci purses to Patek Philippe watches that fetch $60,000. As demand dropped, so did the gator skins — and farmers face the possibility of going out of business.

The number of gator eggs collected from coastal marshes by Louisiana gator farmers dropped from 530,000 last year to 30,000 this year, according to the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The number of wild alligator skins sold to market also dropped from 35,000 last year to around 7,500 this season.

Florida gator farmers, a smaller percentage of the world market, also saw a 15% reduction in the number of skins they’ve sold this year.

“This is, by far, the worst market conditions the industry has ever seen,” Shirley said.

Ya’ll might call me nasty for this, but I offer a solution to the plight of the gator workers of the world: If you can’t sell it as a shoe or a bag, sell it as a meal.