Spring is mating season for alligators and Floridians should treat them with caution and respect.

As temperatures rise, alligators become more active. The American alligator lives in all 67 counties in the Sunshine State and can be found anywhere there is standing water.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recommends reducing the chances of conflicts with gators by swimming only in designated swimming areas during daylight hours. Also keep pets on a leash and away from the water.

Last June, a two-year-old boy was killed after an alligator dragged him into the water near the Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World. There were seven alligator bites last year across the state, according to FWC statistics.

Alligators control their body temperature by basking in the sun and can be found on golf courses and near large bodies of water. FWC urges people to keep their distance and never feed alligators, which is dangerous and illegal.

The American alligator is a conservation success story. Florida has a stable alligator population estimated at 1.3 million. They are an important part of Florida’s ecosystem and help keep other aquatic animal populations in balance.

The Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP) receives 16,000 complaints concerning alligators each year. Because of these complaints, FWC permits the killing of approximately 7,000 nuisance alligators each year. Through increased public awareness, the rate of alligator bites on people has remained constant, despite the increased potential for alligator-human interactions as Florida’s human population has grown.

People with alligator concerns should call the FWC’s toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (392-4286). SNAP contracts nuisance alligator trappers throughout the state to remove alligators 4 feet in length or greater that are believed to pose a threat to people, pets or property.

About The Author

The youngest of seven children, Terry O. Roen followed two older brothers into journalism. Her career started as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, where she wrote stories on city and county government, schools, courts and religion. She has also reported for the Associated Press, where she covered the Casey Anthony and Trayvon Martin trials along with the Pulse massacre. Married to her husband, Hal, they have two children and live in Winter Park. A lifelong tourist in her own state, she writes about Central Florida’s growing tourism industry for Florida Politics and Orlando Rising.

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