Cindy Wong: I am just like other moms; except for this.
“People always ask me if I feel bad about killing a living animal. I tell them that alligators are a dangerous, overpopulated nuisance and need to be controlled. They kill endangered animals and are a threat to people, livestock, pets and property. As a trapper, I do an important service.
Then they ask the obvious question: Do I get scared?
Of course! I would be crazy not to be scared.
When an alligator is trapped and violent, every instinct I have screams, ‘Run away!’ My knees shake, the adrenaline is rushing all over my body. I cannot slip and fall in the water or I will not make it. At this moment, my life depends on my fellow hunters. It is an intense battle and then it is over.
An alligator’s only instinct is to kill. Their tail is strong enough to break your legs. Their jaws can swallow you whole. They can jump the height of their body length. You have to know what your are doing.
Alligator hunts go like this: I hunt with the same people all the time. Now our kids are old enough to join us and we are training them too. Harvesting season is on designated days in designated areas of the Everglades from 5pm August 15 to 10am November 1. After we watch the sunset, we stay up all night and hunt.
I first learned about alligators when I lived in the Louisiana cajun area. Although firearms are permitted there, they are prohibited in South Florida. Here you’ll need a Statewide Alligator Hunt Permit, some crucial basic skills and the ability to plunk down $272 for the honor. We are limited here to two gators per hunt.
Trapping alligators is not a perfect science. We ride into the Everglades in the back of a pickup truck where we eventually sleep. Sleeping on the ground is not practical because snakes will crawl over you. We dine on beef jerky, fruit, cuban coffee, sandwiches and always have lots of water. All of us use DEET on our skin and wear mesh to keep the giant bugs away.
When we see an alligator, we can estimate their size by the distance between their eyes. The goal is to subdue them, secure their mouths with electrical tape then sever their spines at the base of the skull. Our weapons are ten foot harpoons and bang sticks. This way the gator is unconscious first and not in pain when the spine is severed.
I have alligator wallets and alligator purses. I sell alligator back scratchers and lots of jewelry made from alligator bones. I have made alligator trophies from the skull and necklaces from the teeth. I create everything myself and sell it at art fairs or on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Mother-Earth-Art-278299456098/timeline/.
I can skin an alligator too and I have enough alligator meat in my freezer to make alligator stroganoff, a nice alligator stir-fry and alligator steaks where the meat sliced thin and marinated in milk. No, it doesn’t taste like chicken. The meat has the texture of pork and tastes like snake.
The rules of alligator trapping can be boiled down to this: pay attention to surroundings, know what you are doing, be with people you trust your life with.
Apart from this, I am just like a lot of other mothers. I have a 10-year-old son who I want to be home with after school. My artwork and alligator trapping skills allow me to be my own boss and work from home.”