With summer in full swing, many people are working and recreating near Florida’s lakes, rivers and wetland areas. Warm temperatures also mean alligators and crocodiles are more active and visible. While serious injuries caused by alligators and crocodiles are rare in Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recommends taking the following precautions when in and around the water to prevent conflicts with alligators and crocodiles:
- Keep a safe distance if you see an alligator or crocodile
- Never feed an alligator or crocodile. When fed, alligators and crocodiles can lose their natural wariness and instead learn to associate people with the availability of food. This can lead to dangerous circumstances for yourself and other people who could encounter the alligator or crocodile in the future.
- Feeding alligators and crocodiles is illegal and dangerous in Florida. If you see someone feeding an alligator or crocodile, call FWC’s Wildlife Alert at 888-404-FWCC or visit MyFWC.com/WildlifeAlert.
- Swim only in designated swimming areas during daylight hours. Alligators and crocodiles are most active between dusk and dawn.
- Keep pets on a leash and away from the water’s edge and never let them swim in fresh or brackish water even for short periods of time. Pets often resemble alligators’ and crocodiles’ natural prey. Allowing your pet in the water for even short periods to cool off or play can result in its death.
- Call the FWC’s Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR(866-392-4286) if you believe an alligator or crocodile poses a threat to people, pets or property and the FWC will dispatch a contracted nuisance alligator or crocodile trapper to resolve the situation. The FWC places the highest priority on public safety and administers a Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP) to proactively address alligator or crocodile threats in developed areas, while conserving alligators and crocodiles in areas where they naturally occur.
- Find more resources about living with alligators at MyFWC.com/Alligator.
The American alligator, Florida’s state reptile, is a conservation success story. Florida has a healthy and stable alligator population, which is estimated at 1.3 million alligators of every size. They are found in freshwater lakes, ponds, swamps and slow-moving rivers in all 67 counties in Florida. Learn more about alligators.
American crocodiles primarily are found in south Florida living in brackish and saltwater habitats such as ponds, coves and creeks of mangrove swamps. Recently crocodiles have moved northward within their range and even inland into freshwater areas of southeast Florida. The American crocodile is an endangered species success story. Since 1975 their numbers have increased from less than 300 to more than 2,000 adult crocodiles. Today, they are classified as a threatened species. The number of crocodile complaints has risen as a result of their recovery and the increasing number of people living and recreating in south Florida.
Source: Learn how to be alligator aware
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