A trapper was hunting an alligator Wednesday afternoon after it attacked and killed a dog near a pond in The Villages.
The nuisance alligator trapper set up equipment and was poised to capture the alligator at the pond located across from the postal station on Canal Street in the Village of Bonita. A large crowd of Villagers gathered to watch the trapper as he patiently waited to capture and and remove the alligator from the pond.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and Sumter County sheriff’s deputies responded to the pond to investigate the attack which occurred earlier in the day.
Witnesses said a “visitor” had been down near the pond with two dogs that were off leash. The alligator reportedly came racing from the pond and captured one of the dogs, said to be about the size of a pit bull. The other dog fled and was not harmed, witnesses said.
Nuisance alligators are not “relocated.” They are euthanized. Generally, an alligator may be deemed a nuisance if it is at least four feet in length and it poses a threat to people, pets or property.
Relocated alligators often try to return to their capture site. They can create problems for people or other alligators along the way, according to FWC. If an alligator successfully returns, capturing it again would be necessary and likely more difficult the second time.
To avoid creating a problem at the release site, nuisance alligators would need to be relocated to remote areas where they would not encounter people. These remote areas already have healthy alligator populations, and the ones that already live there have established social structures. The introduction of a new alligator to these areas would likely cause fighting, possibly resulting in the death of a resident alligator or the introduced alligator.
There are about 1.3 million alligators in Florida. Alligators live in all 67 counties, and they inhabit all wild areas of Florida that can support them. The removal of nuisance alligators does not have a significant impact on the state’s alligator population.
The state pays a nominal fee to the trapper who can harvest the animal and sell the hide and meat. Many trappers have standing relationships with restaurants eager to buy the meat.
Residents can report problem alligators through the Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).