Handle Alligator Encounters
What To Do -- And NOT
Alligators in Florida are still
a protected species, despite their huge numbers.
The old saying is that the smallest Florida lake holds at least one
So, you are
almost certain to see alligators when you're around
lakes and rivers.
their predatory nature and large size (up to 14 feet
in length and greater than 1,000 pounds), alligators can, and occasionally
do, attack pets and livestock.
Humans, too, occasionally are attacked and in rare
instances are killed by large alligators. More than 200 unprovoked
alligator attacks on humans have been documented since 1948,
with 13 resulting in fatalities.
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission makes these recommendations:
alligators alone. State law prohibits people from killing,
harassing, molesting or attempting to move alligators. The potential
for being bitten or injured by a provoked alligator is high.
Closely supervise children when playing in or around
water. Never allow small children to play by themselves near water.
What Not To Do
Don't swim outside of posted swimming areas or in
waters that might contain large alligators. Swim only during daylight
hours. Alligators most actively feed at dusk, dawn or at night.
Don't allow pets to swim, exercise or drink in waters
not known to be free of alligators or in designated swimming areas
with humans. Dogs suffer many more attacks than humans, probably because
dogs more closely resemble natural prey items of large alligators.
Alligators are more likely to attack small animals than larger ones.
Never remove alligators
from their natural habitat or accept one as a pet. It is
a violation of state law to do so. Alligators do not become tame in
captivity and handling even small ones may result in bites.
Seek immediate medical attention if you are bitten
by an alligator. Alligators harbor a very infectious bacteria, and
even minor bites may require special treatment.
Never feed or entice alligators - it's dangerous
and illegal. Alligators overcome their natural shyness and become
accustomed or attracted to humans when fed.
Inform others that feeding alligators is a violation of state
law and that by feeding alligators, people create problems
for others who want to use the water for recreational purposes.
Dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans at most boat
ramps or fish camps. Although you are not intentionally feeding alligators
when you dispose of fish scraps in water, the end result can be the
same -- feeding.
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