Gator attacks got you scared in Florida? Here’s how to stay safe

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission provides tips for how people can survive encounters with alligators.  Above: An alligator is pictured in the Florida Everglades.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission provides tips for how people can survive encounters with alligators. Above: An alligator is pictured in the Florida Everglades.

dvarela@miamiherald.com

A stroll around a country club in Sarasota County ended in an alligator attack — and death — over the weekend in Florida, adding to the number of gator assaults this year.

HAS wife died after falling into one of the ponds Friday night at Boca Royale Golf and Country Club, as reported by CBS News. Two alligators were found beside her body. They were later removed from the pond, according to the Englewood Sun. An investigation is underway by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office; the woman’s name and age have not yet been released, as of Sunday.

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and the Boca Royal Club representatives did not immediately respond on Sunday to a request for comment.

The incident follows another similar attack recorded earlier this year. In May, an alligator killed a man at Largo’s John S. Taylor Park, 20 miles west of Tampa.

Alligator attacks are uncommon, given that over a million of these reptiles populate the state, Ron Magill, communications director at Zoo Miami, told the Miami Herald.

He said, “The issue is, when an attack does happen, it is such a sensationalized event that people pay attention to it. You are much more likely to be attacked by a dog or another domestic animal than by an alligator.”

The number of attacks may increase with more development infringing upon alligators’ habitats, Magill said, but humans and these reptiles can learn how to coexist.

Magill and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission provided tips on how to avoid and confront alligator attacks. Here are recommendations:

Avoid proximity to any body of water, since alligators, especially males, are known to travel from one body of water to another, including those located on golf courses and in residential communities.

Swim during the day in lakes and ponds and avoid going beyond posted swimming areas. Remember, alligators are most active between dusk and dawn.

Keep Fluffy on a tight leash when walking close to alligator-infested waters. Dogs are susceptible to alligator attacks, since they look like the prey the reptiles often hunt. People have often been injured or hurt while defending their pets.

Mind your distance and forget taking photos and selfies with wildlife. Magill said, “Social media has driven such bad behavior. So many accidents occur by people trying to take pictures to get more likes. People are going to end up in the hospitals and an animal that was trying to defend its habitat will be euthanized.”

Fight back if attacked by a gator. Poke them in the eyes, hit, kick and yell. These tactics often scare away the predators.

“Fight. Fight. Fight. Punch on the snout and eyes,” Magill said. “That’s the most sensitive area. Punch as hard as you can. If you can stick your thumb in their eyes, that’s going to give you your best chance.

“Alligators are not the most intelligent animals. If they feel the battle is not worth the effort, they’re going to let go.”

Want more tips? Check out an extended cheat sheet from the Herald here.

This story was originally published July 17, 2022 6:25 PM.

Rebecca San Juan writes about the real estate industry, covering news about industrial, commercial, office projects, construction contracts and the intersection of real estate and law for industry professionals. She studied at Mount Holyoke College and is proud to be reporting on her hometown.
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