McNeese to host international crocodile specialists conference - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

McNeese to host international conference for crocodile specialists

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The American alligator, alligator mississippiensis. (Source: Georgia Coastal Ecosystems LTER/James Nifong) The American alligator, alligator mississippiensis. (Source: Georgia Coastal Ecosystems LTER/James Nifong)

McNeese State University will host a conference for crocodile specialists from around the world on May 26-30. The conference will highlight crocodile research, management and conservation efforts at McNeese and at the Rockefeller and Sabine wildlife refuges.

The conference will serve as the 23rd Working Meeting of the Crocodile Specialists Group. This year's theme is "Crocodilian Conservation: A Lesson in History." Topics discussed at the conference will include crocodilian behavior, reproduction, art and zoology.

Dr. Mark Merchant, a chemistry professor at McNeese who heads crocodile research at the university, will serve as co-chair of the conference along with independent wildlife consultant Ted Joanen.

According to the Property and Environment Research Center, Joanen was part of the original team of biologists who studied alligators at the Rockefeller refuge in the 1960s, as part of a program by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to explore conservation and management efforts for alligators in the area.

Thanks to Joanen and his team's work, in 1972, Louisiana had its first legal alligator hunting season, and afterward, the alligator population in Louisiana experienced growth at an increased rate.

"McNeese is proud to host this conference that is rarely held in the U.S. This gathering at McNeese is a tribute to the scholarly research and professional affiliations of Dr. Mark Merchant and his colleagues in the College of Science," said Dr. Philip Williams, President of McNeese State University, in a news release.

"Last year the conference was held in Sri Lanka, so this is a significant conference to have in Southwest Louisiana. It will be only the fourth time it has been held in the U.S. during the 41-year history," said Shelley Johnson, executive director of the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Conference participants are welcome to sign up for trips to the Tabasco facility on Avery Island, the Louisiana Spirits facility in Lacassine, the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge and the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge. For more information, click HERE.

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