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Sep 1, 2010 6:47 PM by Shawn Kline

Gator season opens, prices bite

Trappers are heading back into the rivers and bayous for 30 days of gator trapping.
Every year, Louisiana Wildlife officials hand out a set number of tags. Every time a trapper catches a gator, they slap on a tag and collect their cash.
This year might be a little different. There's little money in gator trapping and dealing.
Stephen Sagrera buys gators off trappers but this year, he's only taking gators from his regular customers.
"We're only going to fill the orders we already have," Sagrera says. "When times are tough, people don't need luxuries."
Sagrera's main income comes from alligator skins but in the past two years, the offering price for skins dropped about 75 percent. Sagrera says the diving global economy is to blame.
"When the economy dips, luxury items are the first things to go."
If the demand for skins dries up, trappers don't get paid.
Last year, Sagrera didn't accept any gators from trappers-- sticking to selling small gators from his farm. This year, he says he can only pay trappers about $100 for an eight-foot gator. A sizable creature which used to fetch a price of about $400.
Trapper Chad Koch says the business isn't profitable anymore.
"It's more fun than anything else," Koch says.
However, other regular trappers are just happy to be able to sell them this year- no matter what the price is.
"Whatever they want to give me," Trapper Robert Guidry says. "I'm glad they're buying."
Sagrera however, says if the global economy stays under water, his business could dry-up faster than the skins he sells.
"Another year of this," Sagrera says, "then we need to consider finding the right time to get out."
Out of a business that's been a Louisiana tradition for almost 300 years.

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