Recently, there have been several notable examples of humans getting far too close to alligators. On Monday, an 85-year-old woman died while walking her dog in St. Lucie County, Florida.
According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials, Gloria Serge died after she was attacked by an alligator that came out of the water and attempted to grab her dog. Officials said the alligator was along a retention pond behind her Florida home.
There have been other recent instances of alligators and humans interacting. In New York City, a “lethargic” alligator was found in a lake in Brooklyn. The New York Times reported Monday’s incident was the sixth time since 2018 an alligator was discovered in the region.
Alligators are not native to the area, and it is believed the alligator was abandoned by a private citizen.
Last week, officials in Brandon, Florida, rescued an alligator after a woman spotted it with its snout taped shut in a retention pond.
Data from the University of Florida indicate that, on average, the U.S. experiences one fatal alligator attack yearly.
Despite alligator-related deaths being relatively rare, officials say it is best to avoid them. The University of Florida offers the following tips when in areas where alligators are present:
- Leave alligators alone. Alligators are shy animals that usually avoid human contact.
- Pay attention. Keep an eye on your surroundings near fresh or brackish waters. Avoid vegetation-filled areas of rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water.
- Do not feed alligators. Feeding alligators is illegal. Alligators that are fed will come to associate humans with food and will lose their natural fear.
- Throw fish scraps into trash cans. Do not discard fish scraps in the water at fish camps or boat ramps—you will unintentionally feed alligators.
- Follow directions on signs. Do not swim outside of posted swimming areas.
- Swim during daylight hours only. Alligators are most active at night.
- Stay with children. Never allow small children to play unattended near water.
- Keep an eye on your pets. Dogs are in more danger from alligators than humans, because they resemble the reptiles' natural prey. Do not let your dog swim in waters where you know alligators live.
- Remember the odds. You are more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by an alligator in Florida.