Community upset after Florida Fish and Wildlife has gator killed

Gator surrounded by fence

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - Folks in New Port Richey are upset after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission had a gator killed in a fenced in area. They say the gator was no threat to anyone.

In the Trinity Commons Plaza there's a fenced in retention pond next to an Irish pub and restaurant in the back corner of the property. In it, was a large gator that became known as Wally over the past 4 years.

"I loved him personally i loved him", said Kelly Kerr

"Everybody knew his name was Wally", said Vince Lamattina the pub owner.

Bill Robinson a frequent customer says, "My grandkids love that gator that's one of the reasons I like coming here."

Recently FWC had trappers kill and remove Wally the gator, and several told us they're not happy about it.

Kelly says, "I was distraught I'd never seen anything like that. I didn't know that would be the way it would be handled."

Vince Lamattina owns Fiddlers Green Irish Pub and says it happened in front of about 25 people.

"It was inhumane as far as I was concerned." In describing the way they killed the gator he says, "he was on the bottom and they poked him with a spear to get him to come up."

According to the permit from FWC, the officer felt the gator was a threat to people and she received "many" complaints in the past. 

When we asked FWC for a report, they told us they don't have one yet. But they did say since 2008, they've received 8 complaints including the FWC officer's most recent.

Some of the complaints were concerns for the gator's well being,  some expressed concerns for the public's safety.

But Kelly claims the gator has always been docile and well contained. 

"We've never had an incident nobody's ever been afraid", she adds.

Laurie Bercaw visits the pond weekly on her brake just to see the gator. 

She tells us, "If lives were in danger yes, like if this alligator had not been in an enclosed area that would be a danger. But in this case it's not a danger."

We measured the fencing, the height of the concrete wall is 4 feet and on top of that is a chain linked fence 6 feet high, putting the total fencing height at 10 feet.

Vince says they've never had an incident or negative complaint about the gator.

"There's no way he would've gotten out in my opinion just no way he would've gotten out."

According to FWC's policy, alligators over 4 feet are nuisance animals and they do not relocate them, they have trappers kill them. The trappers use money from the meat and skin to pay for their costs.

Vince understands their job but doesn't believe this gator should've been killed.

He adds, "I agree if Florida has certain laws to protect people, him being here for 4 years, he wasn't harming anybody."

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Jarrod Holbrook is an Emmy and AP Award-winning Investigative Reporter for the ABC Action News I-Team.

Do you have a story idea? Contact Jarrod on Facebook, Twitter, or via email at jarrod.holbrook@wfts.com

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