Alligator encounters more common during animal's mating season

TAMPA, Fla. - Mating season for alligators doesn't typically start until April, but now's the time when these cold-blooded creatures are on the move and more likely to be spotted by humans.  It also increases the possibility of interactions between people and alligators.  

"People become fascinated by these animals, particularly visitors from up north.  But they should remember that they are potentially dangerous if given the opportunity," said Gary Morse, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman.

Keeping your distance from an alligator is a sure way to stay safe. It's against the law in Florida to feed or harass an alligator.  Still, some people can't resist the urge.

"They think that feeding it can be beneficial to the animal. When in fact, it just causes nuisance behaviors," Morse explained.

Whether it's a nuisance alligator that has lost its fear of humans through feeding, or one that's simply wandered out of its natural habitat, it needs to be removed.  A licensed trapper like Captain Mike Amyx will be dispatched to remove the gator through the state's Nuisance Alligator Program.

"If they encounter a nuisance alligator on their front porch, lying in the yard or anywhere that's not near where that gator is supposed to be, I would advise them to use extreme caution," Amyx said.

Amyx says his phone rings a lot more this time of year and that people are usually glad to see him show up.

"Most of them are thankful that we're there to safely remove the alligator, trap the alligator and get him out of the area," he said.

Gators can show up just about anywhere, from flower beds to pools to roads. So it's important to stay alert and be ready to act.

"If you come into contact with an alligator, observe it. Don't touch it, leave it alone, give it plenty of space," said Morse.

To report a nuisance alligator, contact the State Nuisance Alligator Program at  866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).

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