Occasionally small alligators will been seen in and around retentions ponds within Covington Estates. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) the mere presence of a small alligator is not cause for concern as long as alligators do not become a nuisance. An alligator may be considered a nuisance if it is at least 4 feet in length and is believed to pose a threat to people, pets or property. Alligators less than 4 feet in length are not large enough to be dangerous unless handled. Occasionally, alligators less than 4 feet in length are legitimate problems and must be addressed.
At times, we may encounter various wildlife that shares our community. It is dangerous and illegal to feed, move, attempt to capture or otherwise disturb wildlife. However, there are animals that are of a size and temperament which would be considered a nuisance. Alligators, wild hogs, wild cats, coyotes, and large snakes are a few of the animals that may pose a threat to people, pets or property from time to time.
Avoid Dangerous Wildlife Confrontations
- Keep garage doors completely closed and sealed to prevent the intrusion of snakes and alligators.
- Place household garbage inside plastic bags and tie bag before putting into your garbage container. Ensure that your garbage container is completely closed when placed for out for collection to prevent attracting and imprinting wildlife with an artificial food source.
- Don’t allow your pet to roam free at night or any other time to prevent your pet from being killed by predatory wildlife.
- While walking a pet make sure that your pet is on a leash and under your control to prevent a dangerous confrontation with wildlife.
Nuisance Alligator Hotline
Residents with concerns about an alligator should call the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP) Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286). Complainants must be able to grant legal access to the property on which the alligator is located. SNAP does not permit the removal of nuisance alligators from private or publicly managed property without first obtaining permission from the property owner or property manager.
- If the alligator is not approaching people or otherwise posing an obvious threat, wait a few days if possible – even up to a week – before contacting FWC. In spring and summer, alligators are moving to breed and find new habitat. Most of the alligators moving around are smaller ones that have been pushed out of their normal habitat by larger alligators. Usually, these smaller alligators will move further on in a week or two.
- If you hear an alligator hiss, it’s a warning that you are too close.
- Alligators have a natural fear of humans, and usually begin a quick retreat when approached by people. If you have a close encounter with an alligator a few yards away, back away slowly. It is extremely rare for wild alligators to chase people, but they can run up to 35 miles per hour for short distances on land. Never make the mistake of thinking that an alligator is slow and lethargic. Alligators are extremely quick and agile and will defend themselves when cornered. A female protecting her nest might charge a person who gets close to the nest, but she would quickly return to the nest after the intruder left.
- It is not uncommon for alligators to bask in the sun along the banks of a retention pond or sidewalk for extended periods of time. These alligators are usually warming their bodies; they are not actively hunting. Often times a basking alligator may be seen with its mouth open; this is a way to cool its body temperature down, since alligators do not pant or sweat. An approaching human should cause these alligators to retreat into the water. However, an alligator may be considered a nuisance if it leaves the banks of the water body to spend time near homes.
- If you walk near the water and an alligator comes straight toward you, especially if it comes out of the water, it is definitely a nuisance alligator that needs to be reported to FWC. In many cases, these are alligators that have been fed by people or have been allowed to get human food. When fed, alligators can overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food. When this happens, some of these alligators have to be removed and killed.
For additional information, visit Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission – Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP)