Are we living in gator territory? Or are the reptiles encroaching on our neighborhoods?
No matter the perspective, alligators sliding up to homes — even knocking on doors — walking across our streets, visiting our backyards, sauntering across our golf courses, seem to be happening every week across Florida.
And what do we do?
Get out our cellphone cameras, of course, and then call for help.
Remember: Alligators can kill, both humans and pets.
So what happens when you call for help? Wildlife officers arrive, and maybe a trapper, too.
And when they do and get to business, your territory (or is it really the gators’ territory?) is once again safe from teeth and tail.
But what happens to the alligator?
If authorities determine a gator is a nuisance animal, one result awaits, and it could wind up fried on your dinner plate at the local bar. If not, the gator gets a ride back to its more natural surroundings.
Here’s a quick look at what you should do if a gator visits, and what awaits the gator once captured:
Call the alligator hotline
Floridians concerned about an alligator in their midst should call the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission’s toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline.
The number is at 866-FWC-GATOR. (866-392-4286).
A contracted trapper will be dispatched to resolve the situation.
An alligator is generally deemed a nuisance if it’s at least four feet long and the person reporting its presence believes it “poses a threat to people, pets or property,” according to the FWC.
“Generally, an alligator is deemed a nuisance if it is at least four feet in length and the caller believes it poses a threat to people, pets or property,” says the the FWC website. “The FWC places the highest priority on public safety and administers a Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP). The goal of SNAP is to proactively address alligator threats in developed areas, while conserving alligators in areas where they naturally occur.”
It’s illegal in Florida to relocate a nuisance alligator in the wild. So the reptile at issue is either humanely killed by a licensed trapper or placed in captivity. Alligators have a strong homing instinct, and if relocated, often will return to where they were caught, the FWC says.
Gators that are minding their own business and not considered a nuisance are generally relocated to a nearby area, like the one that walked into an open garage and attacked some Diet Coke. before a birthday party
Florida residents need to be mindful that alligator mating season is in full swing through June, and they’re out there on the hunt. Keep all your doors closed.