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Disc golf community upset over people retrieving discs from creek with gators

Posted at 5:56 PM, Sep 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-11 18:26:22-04

CLEARWATER, Fla -- It’s a creek not meant for swimming, even still a man was bitten by a gator after he went in to retrieve a golf disc. 

Cliff Stephens Park in Clearwater is filled with Disc Golf players. It’s one of two popular courses in the area. Alligator Creek runs through it and is known to be home to gators. 

Man bitten by 11-foot alligator while retrieving disc golf disc from pond at Clearwater park

Ron Howell has played the sport for 15 years. He is used to seeing a large gator bask in the sun near the course. He says there are a handful of people that will jump into the water for a little cash to grab a disc thrown a bit off course.  

"There’s somebody in that lake every single day,” Howell said.

Monday, a man was bitten by a gator as he went into the creek to fetch a lost disc.

"A couple guys rescued him from a gator's mouth and he’s lucky to be alive,” Howell said.

He hopes this serves as a lesson to others to not get into the creek. 

"It’s not worth risking your life over a disc,” said Trevor Toenjes, who owns Local Route Disc Golf Pro Shop up the street. 

He says they sell tools that only cost $20 to $30 that will allow you to safely fetch your lost discs. The first is the disc gator, which reaches out 12 feet. The golden retriever can go up to 30 feet and also scrape along the bottom of a pond to pull it back up.

 But he says if you can’t see it, move on.

"I would say stop encouraging the guys that want the money and are diving for tips. Stop doing it and let the discs go,” he said. 

Two gators were trapped and euthanized after Monday’s attack. Howell is disappointed it even happened.

”It’s not the alligator's fault that this guy is swimming in the water every day, making himself subject to being a victim,” he said. 

FWC says they don’t typically relocate gators because the population is stable, and it can be dangerous to people and other alligators if they try and introduce them into a new habitat.