Alligator hunters over the last three years have had to deal with low prices for their hides because of supply and demand. There were plenty of supply but there was no demand for alligator hides in the European market.
This year, the economic news is somewhat better on the European side and alligator hides are moving once again. While the news sounds positive for this year, it is not, according to Wayne Sagrera, who owns and operates Vermilion Gator Farm in the Seventh Ward area.
There is a high demand for alligator hides from seven feet or longer, because of popular large alligator-skin handbags in Europe.
The perfect hide from an eight-footer alligator can fetch around $40 a foot.
While the price sounds appealing, to capture a seven-foot or larger alligator with a perfect hide is almost impossible.
The reason it will be tough is because of Mother Nature. This year all of Louisiana went through a drought. The marshes, canals and swamps had low water conditions.
When the water is low, that means alligators stay in the same place, creating a territorial problem. The more alligators there are in one area, the more alligators will fight. When they fight, they bite. Alligator hides get puncture marks on the hides, decreasing the value of the hide.
While a perfect hide could bring in $40 a foot, one that is marked or has fighting scars may bring in as little as $15 a foot. Sagrera said 95 percent of the large alligators that he buys have blemish marks on the skin and sell cheaper. He said there is not a large demand for marked alligator skins.
This season alligator hunters will be in search of large alligators in hopes of finding the perfect large alligator.