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Why Alligators Are Popping Up In Unlikely Places

Photo courtesy the National Park Service.

Florida’s 1.3 million alligators inhabit all of the state’s 67 counties, and wildlife officials are urging the public to be careful around the reptiles. The warning comes as some gators are turning up in unlikely places.

Early last month from Denise Nichols-Gearhadt’s shop, she saw an alligator walking on the sidewalk of a Flagler Beach strip mall.

The latest Florida sighting occurred over the weekend, when the Sarasota County Sheriff’s office got a call about an 11-foot alligator in a backyard pool.

So, why these alligator sightings right now?

Not only is it close to mating season, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Spokeswoman Tammy Sapp says the reptiles are more active in the spring.

“So, this time of year, alligators become more visible because when temperatures rise,” said Sapp, “their metabolism increases and they begin seeking prey items.”

Sapp says there are some simple, precautionary measures people who live near water can do to reduce their chances of conflict.

Alligators are important to Florida’s natural areas, and are found throughout the state, she said.

“The FWC wants you to know that by following a few simple rules, we can coexist with these amazing animals. First, never feed an alligator. And, keep your distance, if you see one. Keep your pets on a leash and away from the waters edge. Be sure to swim during the day and only in designated areas.”

Sapp says there’s a number of reasons why these rules are in place. First, she says feeding alligators can allow them to overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food.

Alligators are also most active between dusk and dawn. So, swimming during the day in a designated area is a must. And, Sapp adds her agency also has a hotline to address alligator complaints.

The toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline: 866-392-4286 or 866-FWC-GATOR.

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