If you’re the sort of person who likes your reality TV shows to be down to earth, then Swamp People might be just your cup of tea. This History Channel Show features alligator wrestling, death-defying adventures, accents that are occasionally indistinguishable, and the life of a rural community steeped in history. After 7 seasons, the show has gathered a huge fan base, but recent controversy made viewers wonder whether the program would continue. Find out what the Swamp People have been getting up to, and see where they are now in 2018!
What is Swamp People About?
Swamp People was first broadcast on August 22nd, 2010. It follows the lives of Cajun “swampers” living in the Atchafalaya River Basin who hunt American Alligators for a living. The show focuses on the month-long alligator hunting season that takes place in September. According to Louisiana law, gator hunters receive a certain number of tags each season. Each tag corresponds to an alligator, so they can take as many gators as they have tags for until they “tag out,” at which point the season is over for them.
Because alligator hides are so valuable, alligator hunters make most of their annual income during this month. For the rest of the year, they hunt other game, but they have a strong incentive to take as many gators as they can during the hunting season. This means that the show is often high-stakes – people are willing to put it all on the line to bring in as many alligators as possible.
As you might expect, the rough-and-tumble swamp people from Louisiana often get into trouble — though whether they find it or it finds them is up for debate. Several of the reality TV stars have been involved in altercations over the years, and others have had tragic accidents. Here’s what has been going on:
Payne Assaults an Officer
In season 2 of Swamp People, Nicholas Payne was featured on the show. Payne was Bruce Mitchell’s apprentice, but his stint on the show was short lived.
On September 23rd, 2011, police responded to a noise complaint at Payne’s address. When the deputy issued him a court summons, Payne hit the officer and fled into the woods. He was later found, arrested, and sent to jail, where it was found that he also had an outstanding fugitive arrest warrant in Oskaloosa, Florida.
However, this wasn’t Payne’s first run in with the law. In 2010, he did one year of probation for simple battery and resisting an officer. Five years before that, he plead guilty in another simple battery case, for which he did five days of community service.
Tragedy on the Bayou
On May 14th, 2012, Swamp People star Mitchell Guist was working on his houseboat when he fell backwards, appearing to have a seizure. Guist was a regular on the show, along with his brother Glenn. After he fell, a bystander got Guist to shore, performed CPR and called 911.
Guist was pronounced dead after arriving at the hospital. His autopsy confirmed that Guist died of natural causes — namely a heart attack. Guist was a beloved member of the Swamp People cast, and his sudden death was a shock to the community.
‘Trapper Joe’ Domestic Battery Charges
Joseph LaFont, often called ‘Trapper Joe’ was a cast member of Swamp People during seasons 1, 2, 3, and 6. Though popular on the show, Trapper Joe ran into some trouble several years ago when he got into a physical altercation with his live-in girlfriend.
After a verbal argument on April 12th, 2013, LaFont shoved his girlfriend to the floor. After X-Rays and a CAT scan, LaFont’s girlfriend discovered that two of her ribs had been fractured and contacted the sheriff’s department to record the incident for civil litigation. However, prosecutors decided to pursue criminal charges, and LaFont was arrested on May 6th.
Before this incident, Trapper Joe had already been arrested twice for domestic abuse related incidents.
Beer Bottle Beat Down
Father and son team Ronald (R.J.) and Jay Paul Molinere have been cast members on Swamp People since season 2. These professional hunters are tough when it comes to gators – and apparently when it comes to people as well.
On August 8th, 2013, R.J. and Jay Paul allegedly followed a 24-year old man to a convenience store in Bourg, Louisiana. The two are alleged to have assaulted the man, beating him and even striking him over the head with a beer bottle. The victim had a black eye, knot on his head and a messed up jaw.
R.J. and Jay Paul turned themselves in after a warrant was issued for their arrest. However, the story doesn’t end there. After their arrest, the father-son-duo plead not guilty to the charges against them, claiming that they had in fact been the victims of aggravated assault.
As of today, there is no information available on the court proceedings in the Molinere case. However, R.J. and Jay Paul returned to the show several months later, leading some to suspect that the charges may have been dropped.
The Cast Gets Fired & Season 8 Cancelled
When fans tuned in to season 7 of Swamp People, they were surprised to see that something was missing – their favorite cast members! 8 members of the show did not return for its seventh season, and some of them were very vocal about it on social media.
The History Channel replaced the former cast members with people from a different production company. Fans were up in arms, angrily stating that without favorites like ‘Gator Queen’ Liz Cavalier, Jessica Cavalier, and Willie and Junior Edwards, the show was not worth watching. Some even started a petition to bring back the old cast members.
In addition to the upheaval among the cast of Swamp People, season 7 was scheduled to be the last one. The History Channel announced that they were canceling the show, and that it would not return for an 8th season.
What’s Happening Now in 2018?
With the swirling controversy around the fired cast members, many fans had little hope that their show would return for another season. However, The History Channel made viewers very pleased when they announced that the show would continue into the 8th season.
After fans went wild over the cancellation of Swamp People, The History Channel decided to reconsider its decision to cancel. Viewers and cast members alike were happy to hear the news.
For all the drama and mayhem, Swamp People will continue to bring joy to fans everywhere. The release date for season 8 hasn’t been announced yet, but you can be sure that faithful viewers will be tuning in whenever it is.