Big Alligators Inside Crawfish Ponds Just Don’t Mix
By Patrick Bonin
Branch, LA – For 25 years, Ed Guidry has worked as the Operations Manager at Frugé Aquafarms: he’s involved in all aspects of rice and crawfish production, and he’s a key guy who specializes in solving problems when they arise. You could say he’s pretty much seen it all.
But in his two-and-a-half decades here, he’s never faced an issue quite like the one he encountered in a crawfish pond late last month. Ed came face to face with an 11-foot-6-inch, 420-pound male alligator… with an even bigger attitude!
“I got a call mid-morning from a very startled fisherman, but I didn’t know exactly what the problem was because she speaks Spanish,” Guidry said. “When I got there, she was still very upset, crying up on the hood of the truck. So I got into one of our crawfish boats to go and see what I could find.”
Suspecting a small four or five-foot gator, he drove through the pond for 10 or 15 minutes and saw absolutely nothing.
“Every once in a while, maybe when we have a big flood, we might have a little alligator in one of the ponds, and it doesn’t bother anybody and nobody bothers it,” he said. “It stays around a bit, but it usually heads further down the bayou to a better habitat where it has enough food to eat. The water doesn’t really stay in our crawfish ponds long enough for one to live here.”
But just when he was about to give up looking, the boat rolled right over the huge submerged beast. (After things calmed down a bit, Ed found out the first startled fisherman had actually run over the big gator as well, nearly flipping her into the water.)
“He definitely wasn’t scared of the boat. The only reason I found him was because I hit him,” he said. “He spun around pretty fast and came towards the boat with his mouth wide open. I had never seen one that size in person ever before, and I’ve been fishing and hunting in south Louisiana all my life.”
For his own safety, as well as the safety of the fishermen who harvest crawfish in that pond, Ed killed the big gator with a couple of shots from his .22 rifle.
“It was unbelievable. It took me and three other guys to pick it up, put it in the boat and bring it to the landing,” he said.
We contacted the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to report the incident, and they sent out a game warden to investigate. Despite the danger presented by an alligator that size on the property, as well as our need to be able to safely harvest our crawfish crop, Ed was ticketed for taking an alligator out of season and not being a licensed alligator hunter.
“The game warden was a really nice fella who was pretty lenient with me. I could have actually been arrested,” Guidry said.
A licensed nuisance hunter came by later that day and took the alligator, leaving Ed with only memories of his once-in-a-lifetime encounter.
“I understand why I had to be ticketed, but I’m just glad everyone here is safe,” he said. “It would have been very easy for that gator to knock someone out of a boat, or grab their arm as they leaned over to work the crawfish traps. So all in all, I think it worked out for the best.”
And the big gator’s presence has made all of the fishermen a bit more attentive while they harvest thousands of crawfish traps out here on the farm each and every day.
“Everybody’s looking around a little bit more, I guarantee you that,” Guidry said with a chuckle. “Everyone’s being more careful out there.”