Alligators On The Move!
Almost everyone who lives in Florida has seen an alligator at some point. Maybe you’ve spotted one from a distance while having a picnic at a local park, or maybe you’ve had the harrowing experience of an alligator showing up in your pool or front yard. Alligators are a common sight in Florida, but that does not mean we should grow complacent around them. The recent tragic death of a young boy at Orlando’s Walt Disney World has brought alligator attacks back into the spotlight, prompting a discussion on how to safely share our state with these big reptiles.
While you occasionally hear about a large, aggressive alligator, most are less than four feet in length, and are not dangerous unless approach or harassed. Still, any alligator, even a very small one, can be dangerous to humans. As of March 2015, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation had documented 585 alligator bites, with 22 bites resulting in fatalities. In 220 of these cases, the attack was provoked, meaning that the victim was harassing or feeding the alligator. As these statistics show, alligator bites aren’t necessarily fatal. Still, in the event of a bite, even from a small alligator, you should seek immediate attention, as serious infections can occur.
As seen by the above statistics, it is important not to provoke an alligator. In particular, you should never feed them. Not only is feeding an alligator illegal, but it can also lead to further harm. When fed by humans, alligators learn to be less wary of humans, leading them to approach more often. At a boat ramp or near the water, do not throw scraps into the water. Though this may be unintentional, you are still feeding the alligators, and it can have the same effect as intentionally feeding them.
When swimming in water in Florida, be extra alert. Alligators prefer fresh and brackish water, and are the most active at night. Obey all warning signs, and do not swim outside of posted areas. Avoid walking your dogs around bodies of water, particularly at night. Small dogs are very similar in size to the normal prey of alligators, and easily fall victim to an alligator bite.
What to do
If you have been repeatedly bothered by an alligator, call the Fish and Wildlife Conservation or your animal control department. A “nuisance alligator” is at least four feet long and poses a threat to people, pets, or property. If you have a complaint about a nuisance alligator, contact the FWC at their toll free number. When an alligator is confirmed to be dangerous or a nuisance, it will be removed from the area.
Alligators are an important feature of Florida’s wildlife. Even though they are scary, we can do our best to coexist! If you use proper judgement, you can avoid an unfortunate alligator encounter.
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.