Health Care

Florida alligators: Rarely killers, central to state's identity

Florida alligators: Rarely killers, central to state's identity

However, he suggests the animals are becoming bolder around humans as housing developments encroach on their habitats, which can lead to alligators hiding in presumably safe, human-controlled bodies of water.

Alligator run-ins can be unsafe and sometimes have tragic outcomes.

Following the death of a 2-year-old at a Disney park in Orlando, it's probably a good time to brush up on how to avoid an alligator attack.

"They're always nervous when they first feel or see or get close to an alligator", said Ackerman. That's not being snarky, either - the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimated there are as many as 1.3 million alligators in Florida.

"In Florida, anywhere that there is water, whether it's a lagoon in the middle of Disney World or anywhere, these alligators are attracted", he said, pointing out that alligators can climb over barriers to reach water, so "fencing is not really a big thing".

"When people have been feeding alligators you run into issues", Peacock said. "Because during the same time, the human population has also increased and is now living more frequently where that large predator was living". Keep your dog on a leash around bodies of water that could have alligators and do not let your children swim, play or wade in the water, even at the edge.

Alligators are generally wary around humans, with a few exceptions. In 1967, the species received federal protection as an endangered species that couldn't be legally hunted.

"In most cases people are very safe in swimming areas". Another video shows an alligator swimming in a water hazard at a Disney golf course. These areas now have storm water ponds to collect all that water - ponds that are flawless for hosting alligators.

Stay away from water with crocodiles or alligators in.

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The wet and swampy Florida of the past has been manipulated by people who have created ponds, lakes and canals, either to control water flow or for aesthetic purposes, said James Perran Ross, associate scientist at UF-IFAS.

"If there's a body of water in Florida of nearly any size, there could be an alligator in it, whether artificial or natural, big or small", Ross said.

Langley updated his dataset in a follow-up 2009 paper, "Adverse Encounters With Alligators in the United States: An Update, " and found the following: "There have been 567 reports of adverse encounters with alligators with 24 deaths reported in the United States from 1928 to January 1, 2009". But people are in Florida, so people will run into alligators.

Like crocodiles, bears, and other wild animals, unsafe or not, alligators naturally tend to avoid humans.

Many states have "alligator nuisance" programs to help manage the population.

Following the gator attack on a two-year-old boy, many have been reportedly saying that Disney should take the blame.

Florida ran out of space long ago, said Ross. As a result, the FWC receives as many as 16,000 alligator-related complaints a year from residents. "We are shifting from conservation that's totally preoccupied with animals recovered and about getting their numbers back up, to conservation that manages those numbers", Ross said.

"I don't know if I would say never to go in to freshwater, I appreciate the outdoors", Crosby said. "You learn the things that protect you and minimize your risk from the animals". Sharks, alligators and bears killed one person each year, on average.

The boy's family is from Nebraska and likely had limited knowledge of alligators, but even many Floridians may not alligator aware.

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