If there is water nearby in Florida, there also likely is a gator
Recently, a tragic event took place when a young boy was grabbed by an alligator, and the next day was found dead. I can’t imagine much of anything worse.
I don’t know the specific circumstances, of the alligator attack. Should the parents or Disney have done anything differently. I have no idea. But, I do know it was tragic, and I do know anyone traveling to the southeastern part of the United State should be aware of alligators.
When one lives in Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, Wisconsin or anywhere else in the northern or central U.S, you probably don’t know much about or think much about alligators. But if you head south, a bit of awareness is in order.
Alligators aren't just found in Florida. They can be found from southeastern Oklahoma and Texas on the west to North Carolina and Georgia, and Florida in the east.
While I’m primarily a midwesterner, I ‘m a Florida native and spend a lot of the cold weather time in the central portion of the Sunshine state. I’ve learned a bit about gators and written a number of stories about them. I’m no expert, but I respect them.
The thing I hear most often from locals and outdoors people is that gators are everywhere there is water be it lake, stream, retention pond or swampy area.
“If there is water, there are gators,” is what you will hear. It’s true even if it is a pond at a shopping mall. A nearly 10-foot gator was captured a year ago from one of the ponds at the mall where we shop north of Lake Wales.
According to an alligator bulletin provided by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission, “In Florida, the growing number of people living and recreating near water has led to a steady rise in the number of alligator-related complaints.
“The majority of these complaints relate to alligators being where they simply aren’t wanted. Because of these complaints, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program permits the killing of approximately 7,000 nuisance alligators each year.
“Using this approach, and through increased public awareness, the rate of alligator bites on people has remained constant despite the increased potential for alligator-human interactions as Florida’s human
population has grown.
‘Alligators are an important part of Florida’s landscape and play a valuable role in the ecology of our state’s wetlands. Alligators are predators and help keep other aquatic animal populations in balance.”
According to the FWC, “Although most Floridians understand that we have alligators living in our state, the potential for conflict exists. Because of their predatory nature, alligators may target pets and livestock as prey. Unfortunately, people also are occasionally bitten.
“Since 1948, Florida has averaged about five unprovoked bites per year. During that period, a little more than 300 unprovoked bites to people have been documented in Florida, with 22 resulting in deaths.
“In the past 10 years, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has received an average of nearly 16,000 alligator-related complaints per year.
“Most of these complaints deal with alligators occurring in places such as backyard ponds, canals, ditches and streams, but other conflicts occur when alligators wander into garages, swimming pools and golf course ponds.
“Sometimes, alligators come out of the water to bask in the sun or move between wetlands. In many cases, if left alone, these alligators will eventually move on to areas away from people.
“Generally, alligators less than four feet in length are not large enough to be dangerous unless handled.
“Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits killing, harassing or possessing alligators. Handling even small alligators can result in injury.
# # # #
GATORS HERE -- Gators can not survive the cold winter weather of the Midwest, however from time-to-time they are spotted here. These usually are small gators kept as pets that escape or are released when they get bigger.
A four-foot gator was found a half dozen years ago at Pine Lake near LaPorte, IN, and several have been spotted in the White River in Indianapolis in recent years.