Alligators have inhabited Florida’s marshes, swamps, rivers and lakes for many centuries. They can be found in all 67 counties. Current populations are estimated at 1.3 million alligators in Florida.
In recent years, Florida has experienced an increase of new residents and tourism. Many residents seek waterfront homes, and increasingly participate in water-related activities. This can result in more frequent alligator to human interactions, and a greater potential for conflict. While serious injuries caused by alligators are rare in Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) offers the following tips about how to safely coexist with them:
- Be mindful that April is the beginning of breeding season for alligators, and they may be more aggressive during this period.
- Keep a safe distance if you see an alligator and never feed one. When fed, alligators can lose their natural wariness and instead learn to associate people with the availability of food.
- Swim only in designated swimming areas during daylight hours. Alligators 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. Pets often resemble alligators’ natural prey.
- If you want to keep alligators out of your yard, install a fence that is at least four and a half feet tall. Alligators are good climbers and anything lower would not be adequate protection.
It is illegal to kill or harass alligators in Florida and may only be hunted under special licenses and permits. The FWC places the highest priority on public safety and administers a Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program to proactively address alligator threats in urban areas, while conserving alligators in areas where they naturally occur. If you are concerned about an alligator, call FWC’s toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-392-4286. The FWC will dispatch one of its contracted nuisance alligator trappers to resolve the situation.
Additional information and downloadable posters, sign templates and flyers to share with others are available at www.myfwd.com .