Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Market Saved the Alligator from Extinction

Case Study: In 1967, the American alligator was listed as an endangered species (under a law that preceded the Endangered Species Act of 1973), meaning it was considered in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. American alligators were depleted from many parts of their range as a result of hunting and loss of habitat, and 30 years ago many people believed this unique reptile would never recover.

However, the creation of large, commercial alligator farms contributed significantly to saving alligators in the U.S.. Alligator farming is a big and growing industry in Georgia, Florida, Texas and Louisiana, and these states produce a combined annual total of some 45,000 alligator hides. Alligator hides sell for about $300 each, though the price can fluctuate considerably from year to year. The market for alligator meat is growing and approximately 300,000 pounds of meat is produced annually.

Today, in just the state of Louisiana, there are 723,000 alligators on alligator farms, and biologists estimate Florida has 2 million wild alligators. In fact, there are so many wild alligators in Florida that state officials have lifted the ban on alligator hunting, and they now have an 11-week hunting season each year. The American alligator was removed from the endangered species list in 1987 after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pronounced a complete recovery of the species.

Bottom Line: Private property rights, commercial farming, and the commercial sale of alligator meat and hides was largely responsible for the full recovery of the American alligator and helped save it from extinction. The same approach could help save tigers (see recent
CD post), elephants and rhinos, or any other endangered species.

17 Comments:

At 1/21/2010 1:20 PM, Anonymous Benny "Tell It LIke It Is Man" Cole said...

I am not sure how commercial alligator farming restored the natural population. This seems a clear case in which an action taken to protect a species in its habitat worked.
I am happy that farming of alligators is profitable as well. I look forward to eating alligator meat some day. Or maybe wearing an alligator suit. Alligator egg omelettes?
I love free markets--but they fail in some cases, such as pollution, or fishing in the open (and free) seas.
The commons gets plundered, without government regulation. Can we privatize the high seas?
Here is an interesting question the right-wing and libertarian class never wants asked: Okay I have property rights. I own a house in Los Angeles.
You cannot come to my property line and dump trash over the fence. Indeed, you cannot even play music too loud for too long late into the night, or else neighbors will call the cops. You cannot dump lots of sewage even onto your own lots if it runs off onto mine.
But, you can pollute the air that comes onto my lot, and that I must--not by choice--breath? I can get ear plugs, but breathing is not an option.
Therefore, air pollution is a fundamental and explicit violation of property rights.
There is no legal remedy for this. I cannot sue millions of automobile drivers, or thousands of stationary polluters. The tort system does not protect my property rights.
Okay, if we say my property rights are not important in this case, what other property rights can we say are not important? On what basis?
There is even more to the story--real world ramifications. Several neighborhoods in Los Angeles have rebounded in recent decades for lots of reasons. But they are all in areas that were previously very smoggy, but are much better now. Almost any neighborhood between downtown and the San Diego Freeway falls into this category.
If air pollution were to get much worse, the property values of these neighborhoods would go down. I would suffer economically, without pollution controls. My health would also suffer, but I care more about property values because I live in Los Angeles.
So, Dr. Perry, what is the free market solution to this? What would Dr. Perry do to protect property rights?
I see no free market solution. I think the only hope is mandated plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Really, property rights are inviolate except when they are not.

 
At 1/21/2010 1:25 PM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

A couple of years ago when traveling hiway 101 in Northern California we stopped at the Blue Bird Cafe in Upland. My son had the gator and the wife and I had wild turkey (not the bottled variety). I hope we were not contributing to extinction but wild turkeys are quite wily via keen eyesight.

Also on the menu was ostrich, wild boar, buffalo and kangaroo. The prices were all quite moderate. My guess is that farming provides new taste opportunities for exotic meats for the rest of us.

Highly recommend the Blue Bird for delicious breakfast and lunch.

 
At 1/21/2010 2:00 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

I remember reading something similar about Buffalo - that the meat and hides were so valued as a commodity that commerical Buffalo farms sprung up and increased their number tremendously.

 
At 1/21/2010 2:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not sure how commercial alligator farming restored the natural population.

Why doesn't that statement surprise me?

I see no free market solution. I think the only hope is mandated plug-in hybrid vehicles.

First, CO2 is not a pollutant. And if you argue it is, I'll sue you for breathing.

Your argument has nothing to do with free markets, though free markets can facilitate solutions, like the trading of credits. A party has the right to act as long as that action does not interfere with the rights and legitimate and reasonable interests of another. You do not have to sue each individual company seeking redress, you can act, in association with others, to implement or change laws to address the problem.

Don't forget that just because you find an act unreasonable does not mean that that act does not confer some other greater good to the community. The balance between your interests and the communities interests are addressed in the courts and the legislature.

 
At 1/21/2010 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Benny, the ban on harvesting gators in Louisiana contributed to the increase in the population, of course. The state also bought eggs/baby gators from growers for several years to help reseed the population. If all the gators in the wild would have disappeared there were more than enough on commercial farms to start anew.

Born, raised, and living on the Bayou Teche Louisiana.

 
At 1/21/2010 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tastes like chicken:-)

 
At 1/21/2010 3:24 PM, Anonymous Benny "Tell It LIke It Is Man" Cole said...

Anon-

I am not worried about CO2. There is plenty in auto exhaust to be worried about, but not CO2. CO2 might actually help crop production.

Your answer, about the benefits being conferred on community being weighed vs. my property rights, is completely a socialist mantra.

By that measure, a government can impose nearly any regulation upon my land (think wetlands preservation or soil erosion) or simply seize it through eminent domain.

I think air pollution is a pretty clear cut example of my property rights being violated, but there is no simple redress, wither through markets or torts.

So you have reached the same conclusion as me, that government mandates are the solution. The PHEV would clear the air, and radically reduce our dependence on oil thug-state exports, and also improve our balance of payments, keeping hundreds of billions of dollars home every year.

Property values in urban areas would increase.

You know, it is really hard being a libertarian, as I want to be, as all these real-world problems make mince-meat of my ideology. I think that is why so many "libertarians" are really just Republicans who want to smoke pot.

Bayou Man:

I am happy private-sector alligator helped re-stock Florida with alligators. I notice that Nigerian monitor lizards (five feet long!) and pythons are thriving too. It actually all sounds like good eating.

Now, can we figure out a way to profitably harvest wild pigs in TX? They have two million of them, but evidently they routinely outsmart TX hunters, so they are pretty much running free. Maybe they need some Floridian smarts to help them out.

 
At 1/21/2010 3:34 PM, Anonymous Benny "Tell It LIke It Is Man" Cole said...

Why We Will Never Balance The Federal Budget

December 22, 2009
Categories: House Republicans
Anti-socialist Bachmann got $250K in federal farm subsidies

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) — so fond of accusing the Obama administration of foisting socialism on an unwilling America — has apparently been the recipient of about a quarter of million bucks in government handouts.

Liberal site Truthdig links to an Environmental Working Group analysis of federal agricultural subsidies and found that the Bachmann family farm, managed by her father-in-law until his recent death, received $251,000 in farm payments between 1995 and 2006.

Bachmann’s financial disclosure forms indicate her stake in the Wisconsin farm is worth up to $250,000. Her income from the farm has grown from $2,000 a year a few years back to as much as $50,000 for 2008.

Truthdig calls her a "Welfare Queen":

Bachmann's family farm received $251,973 in federal subsidies between 1995 and 2006. The farm had been managed by Bachmann's recently deceased father-in-law and took in roughly $20,000 in 2006 and $28,000 in 2005, with the bulk of the subsidies going to dairy and corn. Both dairy and corn are heavily subsidized — or "socialized" — businesses in America (in 2005 alone, Washington spent $4.8 billion propping up corn prices) and are subject to strict government price controls.

Bachmann isn't alone in her selective socialism: EWG found that the top four districts receiving the largest ag payments are represented by conservative Republicans.

1. 3rd district of Nebraska (Rep. Adrian Smith - Republican) - $1,736,923,011 in subsidies go to 51,702 recipients.

2. 1st district of Kansas (Rep. Jerry Moran - Republican) - $1,315,979,151 in subsidies go to 75,802 recipients.

3. 4th district of Iowa (Rep. Tom Latham - Republican) - $1,288,622,912 in subsidies go to 35,696 recipients.

4. 9th district of Texas (Rep. Randy Neugebauer - Republican) - $1,227,192,312 in subsidies go to 21,290 recipients.

 
At 1/21/2010 3:42 PM, Blogger Uiucfinance said...

The "would work for any other species" is a little suspect. Only reason this worked is because humans had a clear want for the aligators' survival, food and material.

We don't seem to care too much about species not as "valuable" to our tastes/needs.

 
At 1/21/2010 3:44 PM, Blogger stevedp86 said...

Benny-

Haven't we already figured out that everyone in Congress is corrupt and will do anything to get elected e.g. pandering to consitutents by any means possible while absolving one's morals.

Only conniving individuals can make it that far on the political spectrum.

Oh yeah,I hate alligators, they freak me out.

 
At 1/21/2010 4:40 PM, Blogger OA said...

Benny "Tell It LIke It Is Man" Cole said...
I am not sure how commercial alligator farming restored the natural population. This seems a clear case in which an action taken to protect a species in its habitat worked.

I'm not sure how prevalent it is, but I've seen many tv programs where alligator farms do something similar to what's done with sea turtles. They collect the eggs, raise the hatchings until they are big enough to not be such easy prey, and release some. This website talks about raising a 4 foot alligator in about a 1 1/2 years instead of 4 or 5 in the wild. But I've seen shows where they release them smaller.

http://alligatorfur.com/edu/egg.htm

Except for sea turtles, they don't raise them and don't keep any. They just try to make it so a higher percentage make it back to the sea.

 
At 1/21/2010 5:05 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> This seems a clear case in which an action taken to protect a species in its habitat worked.

And by what basis do you come to this conclusion?

A few thousand alligators to millions in a very short period of time, not much longer than what it took to put them in trouble in the first place -- which is significant since recovery usually takes a lot longer than endangerment -- there are lots of people killing up to the point where it's endangered, but only a small population pool to engineer the recovery.

Perhaps you should be Benny "I claim whatever I want without any shred of proof" Cole, instead.

Otherwise you might get charged with false advertising.

> The commons gets plundered, without government regulation.

The commons usually gets plundered BY government (hey, they ain't MY animals, why should we care?).

Case in point -- Note the issue of elephants in Africa. There are nations with them on a commons, where hunting is forbidden, and the population there continues to decline. Meanwhile, in the country next door, where the elephant herds are privately owned... guess what's happening to the population?

> Can we privatize the high seas?

Actually, yeah, there are ways of doing this, via international treaties, just as one has alligator hunting licenses in Florida.

> You cannot come to my property line and dump trash over the fence.

Give me your address, and we'll test this out, Benny. 10-1 odds says I can do exactly that.

Then I can call the authorities, and they'll come out and fine you for failing to keep your property clean.

> Therefore, air pollution is a fundamental and explicit violation of property rights.

Actually, no, this is a case where the government, nominally, is failing to do its job as protector of the commons.

But you can't quite figure that one out, can you?

They're busy taking in money for taxes that ought to be used for various fixing of issues of that sort, but it's going instead into the government's general coffers and spent on whatever hare-brained pork project that suits their fancy with it, instead.

Again: you can't quite figure that one out, can you?

> If air pollution were to get much worse, the property values of these neighborhoods would go down. I would suffer economically, without pollution controls.

Ah, so, you're saying that the pollution controls set by the government aren't working... but you think they're somehow doing their job...?

An interesting reasoning process you have there... Does the term "GIGO" mean anything to you?

Perhaps you need to try out a different nym -- Benny "I claim whatever I want without any clue" Cole

> I see no free market solution. I think the only hope is mandated plug-in hybrid vehicles.

OK, genius -- where, exactly, do you plan to get the electricity?

And we see you're now attempting to reflect a third nym -- Benny "I just flat out have no clue of any kind" Cole

======

If you're trying to be funny, your comedy schtick needs work, Benny.

If you're not, you should stop doing comedy when you don't mean to.

 
At 1/21/2010 5:42 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

Endeavoring to prove his new moniker, Benny "Man With No Clue" Cole blatheringly drooled:

> the Bachmann family farm, managed by her father-in-law until his recent death, received $251,000 in farm payments between 1995 and 2006.

1) Do you have ANY idea at all how TRIVIAL a farm this is? Only 25k a YEAR? This isn't "Republican corruption", it's moronic farm policy!

2) demonstrating the above fact:

According to the Associated Press, Texas oil billionaire Lee M. Bass, NBA's Scottie Pippen, lobbyist Gerald Cassidy and Florida developer Maurice Wilder have something in common: they shared in farm subsidy benefits totaling more than $2.1 million from 2003-2005.

That's $700k a year split four ways....

Only 25k a year? If Bachman's a crook, he's a pretty LAME crook.

> So you have reached the same conclusion as me, that government mandates are the solution. The PHEV would clear the air, and radically reduce our dependence on oil thug-state exports, and also improve our balance of payments, keeping hundreds of billions of dollars home every year.

I repeat, where is the electricity going to come from, genius?

If you are not an exceptionally active proponent of nuclear power, I would recommend you immediately purchase a big ol' can of STFU and be quiet until you CAN say that, because "Southern Cali has built a dozen new nuke plants to support the new plug-ins".

Second, in case you haven't noticed, these cars are notably more expensive than standard vehicles, get no better mileage than comparable "best-design" standard vehicles, and are almost certainly, in the long term, far, far more expensive to repair and dispose of (in 10 years you're going to hear a lot of whining and caterwauling about your water supply getting tainted by the batteries from improperly disposed of hybrids).

In short, you just have no clue.

> Maybe they need some Floridian smarts to help them out.

Well, without any link to actually check into to examine the underlying nature of the problem to see where the TX government is screwing up, this is just you reverting to being Benny "I claim whatever I want without any shred of proof" Cole...

> Haven't we already figured out that everyone in Congress is corrupt and will do anything to get elected e.g. pandering to consitutents by any means possible while absolving one's morals.

Precisely. Clearly, Steve, you have found Benny's clue. Can you give it back to him? He's completely lost without it.

> You know, it is really hard being a libertarian, as I want to be

No, Benny, you just want to smoke pot.

Legally...

It's clear from your addled thinking processes you already toke up all the time without that "benny".

If you were an actual libertarian wannabe you'd be spending time learning how it is that government is rarely a solution of any kind to ANY of the problems you comment on, that the Law of Unintended Consequences almost always overpowers the benefits of the government controls you seek -- most notably the abysmal idiocy of farm bills, which are supposedly to help support the now virtually non-existent "small farmer", but (from the above link):

"According to EWG's analysis of the data, just 10 percent of farmers received 66 percent of federal farm payments from 2002-2005."

 
At 1/21/2010 6:52 PM, Anonymous Benny "Tell It LIke It Is Man" Cole said...

Oh Bloody Rag-

I can't tell if you are agreeing with me, or disagreeing.
Enjoyed your post anyway.
I share your concerns about unnecessary government intrusion into private markets.

But when do I get to breath clean air on my own property?

And please do not dump trash onto my front yard. My wife has me cleaning up enough crap already.

 
At 1/21/2010 7:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

... when do I get to breath clean air on my own property?

I wish we could restrict you to the "air on your own property" on the off chance that it might run out.

 
At 1/21/2010 8:00 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Funny how pseudo benny can never learn from his numerous mistakes...

Hey pseudo benny, do you work for Keith Olbermann?

In Defense of the Gasoline-Powered Internal Combustion Engine

 
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