The Gator boys obviously if you are face to face with a grinning croc!
If you’re going to come face to face with an alligator, Paul Bedard and Jimmy Riffle are the kind of guys you want by your side. The stars of Discovery Channel’s Gator Boys, these two expert alligator trappers risk their lives to hand-capture alligators that have invaded backyards, swimming pools and garages of Florida Everglades residents. They aim to capture these reptiles and move them safely before they are captured and killed for their coveted meat and skin.
Discussing how he got involved in an unusual business like this, Paul in a telephone interview says, “It wasn’t something I set out to do, I was always interested in alligators, sharks and snakes as a kid. I ended up working in Florida with sharks with a friend, but I would get sea sick, so my buddy thought I’d be better suited for alligators.”
Though it’s a risky business, this show is more than just entertainment. Paul and Jimmy use the funds generated from their show to rescue wildlife and return them to their natural habitat unscathed. “I haven’t ever thought that doing this is a mistake,” says Paul. “I understand the risks enough, though I have been bitten over 30 times, and 5 times in the head. I’ve had some good-sized chunks taken out of my arm, but luckily I still have all my fingers and toes,” he quips.
Describing some of the sticky situations the guys have gotten themselves into, Paul says, “We’ve rescued alligators from swimming pools, houses and garages. The ones where I am really cautious of getting bitten are those in small tunnels. Alligators crawl in there and can hold their breath for up to three or four hours. I usually don’t have the patience to wait for them to come out so I swim in after them. It’s real tight, and you can’t see anything. I’ve actually bumped into one of them with my head, and it ran full steam into me, luckily with its mouth closed, trying to escape.
Paul, known for his expertise at capturing alligators of any size underwater, doesn’t believe that the show is about conservation. “Alligators aren’t in jeopardy anymore, so I’m not really trying to conserve them, but I have a lot of alligators. They’re like my kids. I can pet their face, kiss them on the nose. And I think ‘wow how many have been killed?’ so I just want to save as many as I can,” he says. Gator Boys airs every night at 10 p.m. on Discovery Channel.