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Wild alligator skin prices fall by 70% in three years

It’s not just bovine raw material that has fallen in price. Reports from Louisiana suggest that the prices on offer for wild alligator skins have fallen so low in the last two seasons that many hunters have found it no longer worthwhile to catch them.

Registered hunters must have state-issued tags to be able to catch alligators, which they may do using fishing lines or firearms on suitable properties. Hunting is permitted only during the official season, which is for 30 days, starting on the last Wednesday in August in the eastern zone of Louisiana and on the first Wednesday in September in the western zone.

Reports suggest the number of wild alligators hunters caught during the 2018 season was around 18,000. This is slightly more than in 2017, when the figure was closer to 15,000. Between 2010 and 2016, the average each year was 33,500.

Almost all of Louisiana’s alligator harvest comes from farmed animals and the total from farms has stayed steady at around 300,000 per year. The state has a healthy alligator population of around 2 million.

Farmed alligators tend to be much smaller and, although the skins are in demand, they are more suited to small items such as watch-straps than for making bags or boots. However, hunters have supplied fewer skins in the last two years because the price on offer for the skins has fallen.

Skins that brought in $29 per square-foot in 2014 were fetching between $7 and $8 per square-foot this autumn and last, leaving many hunters to conclude that the material was not worth the effort in the current market.

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