Operation Game Thief
LDWF licenses Nuisance Alligator Hunters across the state to capture nuisance alligators and minimize conflicts between alligators and humans. These hunters capture and remove more than 1,000 nuisance alligators every year.
Report a Nuisance Alligator
Contact any LDWF office to report a nuisance alligator.
Staff will record pertinent information and give you the name and contact information of the Nuisance Alligator Hunter for your area. You’ll then contact the Nuisance Alligator Hunter and provide them with the necessary information. The Nuisance Alligator Hunter should respond within 24 hours (less in an emergency situation). In most cases, alligators less than 4 feet are not considered a nuisance or threat to welfare of pets, livestock, or humans.
What is a nuisance alligator?
The mere presence of an alligator does not qualify it as a nuisance, even if it is located in an unexpected place. Most alligators, if left alone, will move on. Alligators less than 4 feet long are naturally fearful of humans and are generally not a threat. Alligators longer than 4 feet that present a threat to pets, livestock, or humans are considered nuisance alligators.
Consider the following to determine when an alligator is a nuisance:
- If the alligator is not approaching people or otherwise posing an obvious threat, wait a few days, even a week, if possible, before contacting LDWF. In spring and summer, alligators move to breed or find new habitat. Most of these alligators are smaller ones that have been pushed out of their normal habitat by larger alligators. Usually, these smaller alligators will move on in a week or two.
- Alligators often bask along the banks of a pond or stream for extended periods of time. They’re usually warming their bodies and not actively hunting. Basking alligators often open their mouths to help cool their body temperature down since they don’t pant or sweat. When a human approaches, these alligators will typically retreat into the water. During the summer, some nesting females won’t retreat into the water and will attempt to protect their nest. However, if an alligator leaves the bank to spend time near homes, livestock pens, or other structures, they may be considered a nuisance.
- If you walk near the water and an alligator comes straight toward you, especially if it comes out of the water, it is a nuisance alligator that should be reported to LDWF. In many cases, these are alligators that have lost their fear of humans. This can be caused by feeding alligators (intentionally or unintentionally) or other reasons.
- Alligators occasionally pursue topwater fishing lures or floats (bobbers, corks). This does not constitute a threat to humans. Like fish, alligators are attracted to these lures because they mimic natural food. Most alligators can be easily scared away from boats or fishing lures. However, alligators that repeatedly follow boats, canoes, or other watercraft, and/or maintain a close distance without going under water may be considered nuisance alligators.
Some of the above information was adapted from information from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Alligator Safety Tips
- Alligators have a natural fear of humans and usually quickly retreat when approached by people. If you have a close encounter with an alligator a few yards away, back away slowly. If you hear an alligator hiss, it's a warning that you are too close.
- While it is extremely rare for wild alligators to chase people, they are quick and agile and will defend themselves when cornered. A female protecting her nest might charge a person who gets close to the nest but would quickly return to the nest after the intruder leaves.
- If you see an alligator while walking a pet, make sure that your pet is on a leash and under your control. Your pet will naturally be curious, and the alligator may see it as an easy food source as they have a keen sense of smell. In areas known to contain alligators, keep pets at a safe distance from the water or inside a fenced area if possible.
- If you see an alligator in a roadway, yard, or other unexpected place, DO NOT attempt to move it. It is dangerous and illegal for the general public to handle or possess alligators.
- If you see a large alligator in your favorite swimming hole or pond, do not swim with it. Although alligator attacks in Louisiana are rare, it can happen. Attack reports in Louisiana are usually more accurately described as encounters. As with all outdoor activities, keep in mind that wildlife encounters are always a possibility.
|Don’t kill, harass, molest, or attempt to move alligators. State law prohibits such actions. A provoked alligator is likely to bite.||Call your local LDWF office if you encounter a nuisance alligator that has lost its fear of people.|
|Don’t allow small children to play unsupervised in or around water.||Closely supervise children when they play in or around water.|
|Don’t swim at night or during dusk or dawn when alligators most actively feed.||Swim only during daylight hours and stay aware of your surroundings.|
|Don’t feed or entice alligators. Alligators overcome their natural shyness and become accustomed or attracted to humans when fed.||Tell others that feeding alligators creates safety problems for people who want to use the water for recreation.|
|Don’t throw fish scraps into the water or leave them on shore. Although you’re not intentionally feeding alligators, the end result is the same.||Dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans, available at most boat ramps and fish camps.|
|Don’t remove an alligator from its natural habitat or accept one as a pet. It is a violation of state law to do so. You can’t tame an alligator and even small ones may bite. In particular, never go near baby alligators or pick them up. They may seem cute and harmless, but the mother alligator may be nearby and will protect her young.||View and photograph wild alligators from a safe distance of at least 50 feet. Remember that alligators are an important part of Louisiana's natural history, as well as an integral component of many wetland ecosystems.|
Some of the above information was adapted from information from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.