Florida Gators in the News

This one was harvested legally, back during the fall 2011 alligator season. Photo from Sportsman's Gallery, a collection of FS Member images.

Spring always brings out the alligator stories, as dropping water levels and rising air temps get the big lizards moving around more. This week, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had a couple of interesting “gator bites” on the Law Enforcement hot sheet.

One short-sighted homeowner in Polk County decided he’d unload a .38 on an errant gator decamped in his front yard. Bad idea:

Officer Tracy Bontrager responded to information regarding a subject who had shot and killed an alligator. Officer Bontrager located the suspect and during an interview, the individual stated that he was out walking his dog when he saw an alligator in his front yard. The subject said he went inside his house to secure his dog and retrieved a 38 caliber handgun. The subject admitted he shot the alligator once, but the alligator continued to walk away. He said he shot the alligator a second time and it continued to walk away, so he shot the alligator a third time. The subject said he was unsure if the alligator was dead or not, so he contacted the authorities. Charges will be direct-filed with the State Attorney’s Office for taking an alligator without a permit.

Again in Polk County, someone else sets out to dispatch an alligator through unlawful means, in a state Fish Management Area, no less:

Officer Tracy Bontrager responded to a complaint regarding four juveniles who killed an alligator. With assistance from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Officer Bontrager and local deputies located and interviewed the suspects, who admitted they had entered the Tenoroc Fish Management Area to kill an alligator that one of the subjects had been watching for several days. The individuals located the alligator, captured it and tied its mouth shut, then killed it with a claw hammer. As they were dragging the alligator out of the management area, they were observed by a hiker who contacted authorities. The subjects were released to their parents and charges will be direct-filed with the State Attorney’s Office for taking an alligator without a permit and petty theft, which occurred when the subjects failed to pay the required daily use fee.

Maybe the alligators are reading these reports, too, as it appears they’re striking out in vengeance, as the following juicy story from Charlotte County would indicate:

Investigator Jason Cooke responded to an alligator bite that occurred when an individual was clearing the lilies from her backyard pond and felt a bite on her buttocks. The victim drove herself to the emergency room where it was determined that she had several teeth marks in the shape of an alligator’s snout. Nuisance alligator removed the five-foot long alligator.

If all this weird news is just too much for you to swallow, check out the May 2012 print issue of Florida Sportsman Magazine, now on newsstands. We have an article explaining the details behind the lawful alligator hunting season, for which permits will soon be available at www.myfwc/hunting.