St. John Auction alligator hunt yields 11-footer

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South
The St. John Auction alligator hunt yielded an 11-foot, 10-inch creature in September. Pictured from left are Cliff LeGrange, Brady LeGrange, Ben LeGrange, Clay LeBlanc, Colin LeGrange, Jace Cedotal, Jacob David, Tommy LeBlanc and Christina Cedotal.

PLAQUEMINE - Alligator hunter Cliff LeGrange and landowner A. Wilberts recently donated the proceeds from a hunt that Danny and Christina Cedotal bought at the St. John Auction in the spring.

The hunt took place in mid-September when the Cedotal's eldest son, Jace Cedotal, took an 11-foot, 10-inch alligator.

Cedotal, a St. John varsity football player had many thoughts going through his head as the boat idled up to the downed and very taunt line.

"We knew a big alligator had taken the bait at line's end," Cedotal said. "Mostly, I hoping it is real big and I didn't miss. On the way back to the boat launch with my alligator in the boat, I thought a lot about how lucky I was to be participating in a hunt that's a Louisiana cultural tradition dating back hundreds of years. Thanks mom and dad."

American alligators' scientific name is Alligator mississippiensis and have been hunted for centuries across the northern Gulf of Mexico states, first by native peoples and then by European settlers.

Commercial hunting of alligators for hides and meat in the region dates back to the 1800s as demand for alligator leather increased sharply during the Civil War.

At that time, there were so many alligators that nobody ever dreamed they could be overhunted. So hunting proceeded unregulated until harvest levels began to swiftly bottom out in the 1950s due to overhunting and habitat loss.

In fact, numbers dropped so much that alligator hunting across the southeastern United States was closed from 1962-1972 and the alligator was listed as an endangered species across its range. During the closure, alligator populations quickly recovered,

The modern Louisiana alligator season opened in 1981 and is strictly regulated.