Dr. David Livingstone, a certified associate in biological sciences, has received $3.7 million in federal economic stimulus funds for his signage project that he expects to take at least three months to complete.
Dr. Livingstone said that although alligators have been documented in all 82 of Mississippi’s counties, very little attention has been paid to the alligator problem in the northern part of the state.
“I became interested in the alligator threat when I read on a wildlife forum that a fisherman saw a gator sunning on top of a beaver dam last spring in a watershed lake in Yalobusha County,” said Dr. Livingstone. “I presume that they are like roaches. When you see one, there are many others you don’t see. Therein lies the danger.” (Link to forum: http://www.mdwfp.com/forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=51242)
Dr. Livingstone’s team has already begun to put signs in and around potential alligator habitat areas including ponds, lakes, rivers, and the wastewater treatment facility south of Water Valley.
“I’ve got a two-man team and a sign placement vehicle with sophisticated GPS equipment so that the markers can be placed with scientific precision,” he said. “Just the vehicle and the Tom-tom are valued at almost $9000. Plus, we have purchased around 300 signs worth about $15 each.”
“When you total it up and add the salaries for my two part-time employees, that takes a big chunk of the grant,” he explained. “That leaves only what’s left for my research.”
As soon as the Yalobusha project is finished, Dr. Livingstone plans to expand to Panola County during the summer and then to the entire northern half of the state by winter. “As long as the stimulus money holds out, I can work to protect the people of the state from predators.”
However, a big part of his project is aimed at protecting the alligator from people as well. “Sometimes well meaning individuals will try to feed unhealthy foods to alligators,” he added. “Candy bars, Slim Jims®, beer, and children are not good for gators.”
He believes that the increase in the alligator population can be linked to the migration of groundhogs into the area. “Gators love groundhog almost as much as they like beaver,” he said.
There has been considerable interest in the project from the public, according to Dr. Livingstone. “A number of people have suggested that I take city and county elected officials on a tour of alligator invested areas for a closer look.”
Although Dr. Livingstone believes that the alligators should be protected, he doesn’t believe that gators should be wasted. “Accidentally killed alligators such as those hit by cars should be harvested and eaten.”
Here is a recipe supplied by Mickey Howley who said a 10 foot gator will get you 100 pounds of meat, and will flip a pickup if you hit it at highway speeds. He added that large gators have tasty feet but usually most meat is in the base of the tail.
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup chpped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
6 cloves garlic chopped
1/4 cup tamato paste
2 cups of fresh tomatoes peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup white cooking wine
2 cups fish, shrimp, or chicken stock
pinch of thyme
3 bay leaves
3 pounds alligator meat, diced
3 pounds of shrimp, peeled
1 cup diced mushrooms
1/2 cup black olives, drained and chopped
1/2 cup green olives, drained and chopped
1/2 cup parsley, minced
1/2 cup green onions cut fine
salt, black and cayenne pepper to taste
Sauté onion in butter until glassy, add celerry, peppers, garlic, stir up well. Add tomatoes and paste and sugar, allow to simmer together. Add wine, stock, and seasonings. Add meat shrimp and bring to boil and then simmer 30 minutes stirring occasionally or until alligator is tender. Add mushrooms and olives and stir in, sprinkle parsley and green onions over top. Serve hot over rice.