Mom says gator too close to Palm Beach County school

Concered parent called wildlife officials for help

THE ACREAGE, Fla. - A Palm Beach County mother is turning to wildlife officials to see what can be done to keep alligators from coming even closer to her son and to his school.

Heidi Hess said her son son Josh, 12, sent her a cell phone picture of a gator a few days ago after he had boarded his bus at Western Pines Community Middle School in The Acreage.

Josh said the gator was chewing a piece of chicken that someone had thrown to the animal. Doing so is against the rules that are clearly posted on the chain-link fence behind the school, which is the only barrier between the animals and young kids.

"Makes me scared to know that they are that close and that people are feeding them," he said.  "I feel they could just tear through some of the fence."

Hess says this is much too close for comfort so she contacted the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.  FWC cannot do anything about the gators; at least not now.

A pond is on school property so it is up to the Palm Beach County School District to make the next move. A district spokesperson said that the safety of students is the top priority and that the district is working with FWC on this particular gator situation.

"We all live out here in The Acreage and there's gators all around, all kinds of animals," said Hess. "But the fact that someone is feeding them and they're so close to those children and they are not afraid. That's what bothers me."

The principal of the school said that the gator has been around for years and has yet to cause any problems.  FWC says it will act if and when the school district says so. A reminder for all;  it is against Florida law to feed wild alligators. 

For more information on alligator protocol, click here .

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