PALM HARBOR, FLA. — The woman attacked by an alligator in Palm Harbor is recovering at a hospital in Tampa.
The attack happened by a retention pond on Pine Ridge Blvd. in Palm Harbor.
FWC officials identified the woman as 43-year-old Jessica Earle. Hospital officials said she remains hospitalized but is expected to recover.
The victim was walking a dog on a leash when the attack happened around 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
"Anything under a German Shepherd, those guys want to eat. Alligators like their prey items small. They like to be able to grab and crush that food and kill it right away so it doesn't fight back and hurt them so raccoons, possums, otters, fish, birds," said Dan Costell, ZooTampa's associate curator of reptiles and aquatics.
FWC contracted a nuisance alligator trapper to remove the 7-foot gator after Tuesday's attack. State wildlife officials said once the gator is removed, it becomes the property of the trapper. The gator was likely processed for its hide and meat.
FWC officials said relocating an alligator is usually not an option, the gator will likely return to the area where it was captured.
Wildlife experts said alligators live throughout Florida in lakes, rivers, ponds, wetlands and other bodies of water. Experts said make sure pets are on a leash and a safe distance away from the water's edge. Also, people should swim only during the day and in designated areas, but pets should never swim.
Warm spring weather means alligators are more active and more visible, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says. Courtship begins in April then mating happens in May or June, according to FWC.
"The males are traveling to try and find females. Some males are being pushed out of their homes by other males and have to go find other homes so we're in the middle of mating season right now," said Costell.
"I think the alligator was going after the dog yesterday and missed. They're not 100% predators where they catch their prey 100% of the time, they go after it."
For more information on co-existing with alligators visit: https://myfwc.com/conservation/you-conserve/wildlife/gators/.