TAMPA, Fla. — "Warning! Alligators."
Seeing a warning sign for alligators in Florida is pretty common, you might even wonder, "What are the odds of actually seeing one?"
Well, the odds are higher than you might think with an estimated 1.3 million alligators in the state.
"Folks, we cannot stress enough that warning signs are there for a reason," the Tampa Police Department wrote on Facebook. "It has a slightly humorous cartoon of an alligator on it, but they are no laughing matter! Just this afternoon a very large, and very angry alligator came for a visit right by the sign."
Police say a trapper was on hand to assist officers and remove the gator.
It's pretty funny, a huge alligator hanging out next to a warning sign about alligators. But in the past year there have been several instances of alligators getting way too close for comfort.
The bottom line? We share the state with alligators, they're fundamental to the state's wetlands and they're not going anywhere. So, take precautions.
If you ever come across a gator in an area where it could pose a threat to people, pets or property it's considered a nuisance alligator. In that case, you need to contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-392-4286.
FWC also offers these tips for Florida residents:
- Be aware of the possibility of alligators when you are in or near fresh or brackish water. Bites may occur when people do not pay close enough attention to their surroundings when working or recreating near water.
- Do not swim outside of posted swimming areas or in waters that might be inhabited by large alligators.
- Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn. Therefore, avoid swimming at night.
- Dogs and cats are similar in size to the natural prey of alligators. Don’t allow pets to swim, exercise or drink in or near waters that may contain alligators. Dogs often attract an alligator’s interest, so do not swim with your dog.
- Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits killing, harassing or possessing alligators. Handling even small alligators can result in injury.
- Never feed alligators – it’s dangerous and illegal. When fed, alligators can overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food. When this happens, some of these alligators have to be removed and killed.
- Dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans at boat ramps and fish camps. Do not throw them into the water. Although you are not intentionally feeding alligators when you do this, the result can be the same.
- Seek immediate medical attention if you are bitten by an alligator. Alligator bites can result in serious infections.
- Observe and photograph alligators only from a distance. Remember, they’re an important part of Florida’s natural history as well as an integral component of aquatic ecosystems.