80-year-old South Florida man wrangles large alligator in his backyard

An 80-year-old South Florida man took it upon himself to catch an alligator that slithered into his Southwest Miami-Dade backyard on April 16, 2019.
Ed Chapman
Posted at 6:34 AM, Apr 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-17 07:04:06-04

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN/CNN) - An 80-year-old South Florida man took it upon himself to catch an alligator that slithered into his Southwest Miami-Dade backyard, but after grappling with the unwanted visitor, he needed some help from police and wildlife officials.

Miami-Dade Police and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials responded to the home along the 12300 block of Southwest 202nd Ave., just after 5 p.m., Tuesday.

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Ed Chapman, 80, said he spotted the alligator in his property. He then tried to trap it himself.

“That thing tugged me all over,” he said. “Carried me, twisting and fighting me all the way across the property.”

Chapman said he learned about the six-and-a-half-foot intruder from his dog, Rocco.

“I saw it because my dog ran out, and I saw her veer off, and she ran back,” he said, “and I looked at it, and there it was walking, and I said, ‘Damn, that’s a big gator.'”

Chapman said he brought out a noose in an attempt to apprehend the unwanted yard guest.

“I went and got the noose pulled, and I got it around its neck,” he said.

Ed Chapman
Ed Chapman
But Chapman said the alligator was not about to go down without a fight.

“He swatted me with his tail and knocked my legs out from under me,” he said.

Chapman said he fell on his side, but he wasn’t done wrangling the reptile.

“We argued together until we got all the way over to this pond,” he said, “and then he got his front legs down in the reeds there, and then we went all the way down, and he had his face in the water.”

It was then that Chapman called 911.

“I said, ‘I just need some help. I got it contained, but I need some help. I can’t get it out by myself,'” he said.

When asked what he meant when he said he “argued” with the alligator, Chapman replied, “Yeah, we argued. Yeah, he wasn’t happy.”

Wildlife officials responded within 30 minutes of Chapman’s phone call.

Police officers surrounding the alligator and using duct tape to restrain it. They then put it in the back of a marked pickup truck.

No one was hurt.

Officials said the gator would have been about 8 feet long if not for the fact that part of its tail was cut off, something that, they said, happened in the wild.

Chapman said his gator encounter is nothing strange. The homeowner collects poisonous snakes for venom research and breeds wolves. He said he currently has about 60 snakes in his collection.

Chapman, however, disagreed when he was called a tough guy.

“Nah, not tough. I’ve just been around this stuff a long time,” he said.

Wildlife experts said alligator mating season is approaching, and they want residents to remain alert as sightings will increase.