Gators, Bobcats, and Snakes – Oh my!

Last year, three women died in the state of Florida by alligators.  Each year, a number of people move to Florida and get a lot more than they bargained for.  If you are ignorant about the alligator, it might be wise not to move next door to the swamp.

Since 1948 when Florida began keeping records on alligator attacks, only 19 people died up until now.  Anyone in the state has a better chance of dying by lightning or winning the Florida Lotto than being attacked by an alligator.  However, people new to the Sunshine State continue to tempt fate.  They feed alligators not knowing it is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

It is very expensive to feed the gators.

Just this week, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission again arrested a man for feeding alligators.  The incident, which happened in Port St. Lucie, was the sad result of an area resident feeding hot dogs to a six foot alligator.  While the Commission arrested the human, unfortunately they had to kill the alligator.

Many do not realize or understand “nuisance alligators;” you cannot catch and release them elsewhere.  Once one of the great lizards losses its fear of man, and more importantly sees humans as a food source, they must be killed.  After they have learned they can get food from man, the gator has lost its fear of humans and as a consequence, becomes a danger to anyone nearby.

This is why it is a crime to feed wild alligators in the State of Florida.  The real danger is not having the Florida Game and Fish Commission catch you; it is the possibility one of those fearless gators finding you.  If one does catch you standing on the shore, say 25 or so feet away, his next thought will be, “Lunchtime, the human is here to feed me again…”

This practice of feeding wild animals is dangerous.  Not just the gators, either.  There are other animals wild in Florida you should not mess with.

To give you some ideas, the gator above can cover the 25 feet of open space between him and where you are standing in literally one and a half seconds.  The diamond back rattle snake ranges throughout the state. And the water moccasin, one of the most aggressive snakes in the North Americas, can strike two and a half times its body length – and its venom is more poisonous than the rattler’s.  And then there are the bobcats, still roaming around the state as they wish.  Along with wild boar.

Gators in the Payne’s Prairie State Park. These boys were about six to seven feet long.

If I were to travel to New York City, I know there are places too dangerous to which I would not venture in the city.  I am willing to bet there are places here in Florida, that, should you not know the rules, could be just as dangerous.

END

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