As a card-carrying libertarian, I imagine you are aware of the <hush hush> nuisance tag gator hide industry Tom? What do you think of this odd end-around ESA regulations that seems to keep gator populations from expanding too far and makes a lot of rednecks (and Hermès) a lot of money? As the successful hunter of a big nuisance gator in Johns Island SC, I certainly appreciated the program.Because the Endangered Species Act worked very well. It was hard to find a gator driving across Tamiami Trail when I was a kid. Now they're everywhere.
The other answer is that government is kinda slow. We quit protecting them too late and still protect them too much, so have more than we should in some areas. It's a better problem to have.