Earlier this year The Weather Channel offered a brief report on a group of Lazarus taxa. If you’re not up to speed on your Latin — don’t worry, neither were we — scientists use the term to refer to species thought to be extinct but were suddenly discovered.

The Weather Channel, noting that according to the United Nations some 150 to 200 animals are considered extinct each day, identified 10 such creatures in its feature. Most were found overseas, but wherever they were discovered, scientists credited one factor to their resurrection, which Charles Darwin could appreciate: “Occasionally,” the network noted, “animals feared extinct will become surprisingly adaptable to changing environments.”

Within North America, few animals have had to deal with a habitat that has evolved as much as the home of Florida’s official reptile: the American alligator.

Alligators have lived in the swamps of North America for at least the last 14,000 years. But in the 1950s and ’60s, the combination of habitat loss — Florida’s human population more than doubled between 1950 and 1965 — and hunters seeking the armor-like hide for eventual conversion to shoes, purses and other items greatly reduced the population.

Concerned alligator proponents sought greater protection for the reptiles. In 1967 gators were added to the roster of protected animals under the federal Endangered Species Protection Act, the forerunner to the better known Endangered Species Act.

Conservationists, environmentalists and scientists credit the Endangered Species Act with literally saving the gators’ hides. Alligators had rebounded so much that they were removed from the protected list just 20 years later. Edward O. Wilson, a renowned biology professor at Harvard, called the recovery of the alligator population and the subsequent de-listing the “most dramatic” success of the Endangered Species Act.

Brian Seasholes, a scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, takes a contrarian view. In a 2013 article, he argued that alligators were not as threatened as some claimed. Moreover, he said the credit for the alligators’ resurgence belongs more to a 1969 amendment to the federal Lacey Act that outlawed the interstate trade reduced the incentive for hunting.

However it came about, the effort to preserve alligators has worked so well that we are awash in them today. In fact, the population had surged so much that Florida reintroduced hunting on a limited basis in 1988. The Sunshine State is now home to an estimated 1.3 million alligators — roughly a quarter of the whole U.S. gator population.

We comment on this because this year’s alligator hunting season ended on Tuesday. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issued more than 6,000 permits to gator hunters this year, according to a recent article by the Naples Daily News. While the numbers are not final yet, hunters last year bagged more than 6,700 alligators, and the fees for licenses generated $1.5 million for the FWC, which uses the proceeds to fund research, conservation and law enforcement. The increase in its numbers has also allowed a cottage industry for alligator products, including meat, to flourish.

Based on the figure Seasholes cited, the alligator population in Florida has roughly doubled over the past 45 years or so. Meanwhile, the human population has quadrupled. That has made human-gator contact more frequent, and sometimes with tragic results. The tension will likely increase as Florida welcomes more new residents and encroaches on more gator habitat in seeking the space to house them. But while we need to tread lightly around our lakes, rivers and marshes, Floridians can take pride that their state icon is in no danger of becoming part of the Lazarus taxa crowd.