ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Early Sunday morning along I-275 just south of Gandy Blvd., a twelve-foot alligator made its way up a small grassy incline and into the northbound lanes of the highway. The gator was hit by a 2012 Toyota sedan.
"Alligators move about quite often at this time of year. It's not uncommon for an alligator to be crossing a four- or six-lane road," explained Gary Morse of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
After the gator was hit the first time, it disappeared into the woods, and then reappeared about a half hour later in the southbound lanes of I-275, where it was struck a second time.
The impact from the second car killed the gator. Despite the earlier injuries, the alligator was determined.
"To try to find something that he's looking for. Be it food, or a place to cool off, or a mate," said Morse.
Every year, as the weather heats up, so do the activities of the alligator. That means there's an increased chance of encountering an alligator in locations other than water; although pools are known to attract them. And the gator is known to attract people.
"I think that people are fascinated in particular with alligators. We have so many of them, they tend to interact with people fairly frequently," said Morse.
But it's that interaction that can lead to trouble if humans make the wrong choice. It's illegal to feed or intentionally harass alligators because they'll lose their natural tendencies to fear humans. But often times, people find themselves having to deal with an unwelcome gator.
"If you have a problem with an alligator, do not try to handle it yourself. Give us a call and we'll respond. If it's an emergency, we'll get somebody there real quick," Morse said.
The FWC's Nuisance Alligator Hotline is 866-FWC-GATOR (392-4286). The number for the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline is 888-404-3922.
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UPDATE: The National Weather Service says the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma, was a top-of-the-scale EF-5 twister with winds of at least 200 mph.