Development of the Florida Alligator Industry
What is now known as the alligator industry began developing sometime in the early 1800s in the United States. At that time, alligator was mainly used for its skin in order to make footwear and horse saddles, although the oil rendered from the gators was also used to lubricate engines and machinery of those times. What is now known as the Florida alligator Industry did not appear to significantly develop until around the time of the U.S. Civil War when the skins were used to make saddles and shoes for the Confederate Army. After the 1900s, the numbers of alligators were reduced due to overhunting due to the industry and of fear of the reptile itself as a nuisance. Over the years, alligator skin was, and is, considered a luxurious skin to be used for purses, wallets, shoes, boots, belts, watch bands, and jackets.
In spite of the species once being listed as an endangered species, U.S. conservation efforts have reversed that trend and resulted in the delisting of the species in 1987. Since the species is now listed as threatened and is still federally protected its taking is allowed by state approved management and control programs. Thusly, alligators are now harvested for skins and meat in the southeastern United States.
While the alligator industry market did suffer somewhat during The Great Recession of 2008-2009, it has rebounded with the slowly-improving world economy and with the advent of television shows which popularize the alligator harvesting industry such as, “Swamp People.”
The Florida Alligator Industry Today
Today, the Florida alligator industry numbers about 28 strong, with companies that are able to supply you [the consumer] with everything from alligator meat and meat products, to finished hides or raw and crusted skins, to finished leather products or novelty items. Please feel free to contact leather suppliers or meat suppliers for further information.