Florida is seeing a record high number of reported alligator bites this summer. With 2016 only seeing 7 alligator bites, 2017 has already surpassed that number with sixteen total so far this year. With five months left in the year, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) worries the warmer weather is pushing alligators into inhabited parts of Florida.
Alan Register of Gatorama in Palmdale, Florida, said alligators are attracted to certain human behaviors that may cause them to think a person is food. He also said alligators have a natural fear of people, but…
“They lose the fear, obviously, when people feed them,” said Register. “So, if there’s any splashing around in water, that’s going to cause them to come closer. They’re going to be curious. They are opportunistic eaters, so whenever the opportunity arises, they’re going to eat. They aren’t really stalkers, per say, but they will attack given the right circumstance.”
The most recent alligator bite in southwest Florida happened July 9. A 71-year-old Lee County woman was airlifted to Lee Memorial Hospital after being bitten on her leg while gardening behind her San Carlos Park home. Just two days before on July 7th, a Charlotte County man was bitten while diving for golf balls, and the next day, a 10-year-old boy was bitten while swimming in the Peace River. All three have been released from the hospital.
The FWC said alligator bites continue to be an issue as more alligators are reported in urban areas. Wildlife officials recommend never feeding an alligator. It’s against the law.