— — VALDOSTA, Ga. — Donny Bartow’s job description is simple: Gator trapper.
His job is not.
A licensed “nuisance trapper” in south Georgia for the past 10 years, Bartow has an extreme passion for reptiles. “You don’t have to kill it, if you’re scared of it,” he said.
Bartow, who is commonly known as Gatorman, gets frantic calls from people who spot alligators at a nearby pond or crossing a neighborhood street. He catches, on average, 30 to 100 gators a year.
“I am one in 13 licensed nuisance trappers in the state,” Bartow said. “I am the only one licensed in our area.”
For years he’s preached that it is unnecessary for residents to take alligator matters into their own hands. Bartow has witnessed people kill an alligator simply for being on their property and not because they are causing harm. And he doesn't like it.
“They have made gators out to be man killers and that just simply isn’t the case,” Bartow said. “The gator isn’t being malicious.”
Worse yet, he said people don’t realize that killing gators is illegal. It is a felony for anyone to participate in acts like this without a license.
“You can face jail time and heavy fines,” Bartow said. “It’s not an endangered species but it belongs to the state of Georgia.”
In order to hunt and kill alligators in Georgia, you must have a license to do so.
“It’s either me or the game warden,” Bartow said. “Call 911 and I will be there. All safety is ensured to everyone involved.”
The largest alligator caught to date by Bartow was located in Clinch County, Ga., back in 2006. Although it was a struggle, Bartow managed to trap it..
“He was 13 feet and 1,000 pounds,” Bartow said. “Had to pull him out with a truck.”
Bartow has plans to make his vocation into a TV show, which will be called “Gatorman.”
It will depict real-life scenarios in the nuisance trapping business.
“The alligator is the focus of the show,” said Bartow, promising his nature program will be different from others. “Shows stage too much. I want people to see how it really is,” Bartow said.
Details for this story were provided by Caitlin Barker, a reporter for the Valdosta (Ga.) Daily Times.