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Living With Alligators in Southwest Florida

Matthew Field - http://www.photography.mattfield.com, CC BY-SA 3.0
Wikimedia Commons

According to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission there have been 24 fatal alligator attacks in the Sunshine State since 1973, and there are roughly seven unprovoked gator bites to humans per year in Florida, so they’re not all that common. But, when they do happen they do make the news. A bicyclist was attacked by a 9-foot gator at a park in Stuart last week, and a man searching for shark teeth in the Myakka River was bitten by a gator last month.

Compare that to dogs, which average 600 human bites per year that result in hospitalization — that’s according to the Florida Department of Health. And, for context there are normally about 16 shark bites in Florida each year.

We're joined by two wildlife experts to discuss alligators in Florida, especially during mating season which we’re toward the end of right now.

-Dr. Jerry Jackson is a professor emeritus at Florida Gulf Coast University, and former Professor of Marine and Ecological Sciences, former Whitaker Eminent Scholar in Science, and former Director of the Whitaker Center for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education. He's also the creator of With the Wild Things heard weekday mornings on WGCU-FM.
-Dr. Venetia Briggs-Gonzalez is a research biologist who works at the Croc Docs Laboratory at the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center.