15-foot Florida alligator caught after chasing swimmers near Gulf of Mexico, authorities say

Nuisance alligators on the rise in Florida

With April comes the start of alligator mating season, meaning more aggressive gators on the prowl, and that’s not sitting well with residents of the Sunshine State. Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Commission says over 7,000 nuisance alligators had to be killed or relocated last year, compared to 6,700 in 2017.

A Florida trapper captured a nearly 15-foot alligator after deputies responded to reports of the giant reptile chasing swimmers, authorities said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) sent a nuisance wildlife trapper to assist a Pasco County maritime unit to catch the gator off of Durney Key, an island near the Gulf of Mexico, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office wrote on Facebook.

The alligator was chasing scallopers in the Cotee River, which dumps out into the Gulf, the sheriff's office said. No one was injured. Deputies estimated the gator was 12-15 feet long.

The trapper took the alligator to a "safe location," the sheriff’s office said.
(Pasco County Sheriff’s Office)

"It's unusual. That’s the first one I’ve ever caught out in the Gulf," alligator trapper Rick Vetter told WFTS-TV. He estimated the gator weighed nearly 300 pounds.

The FWC website says that gators are rarely found in saltwater habitats, preferring freshwater lakes and slow-moving rivers. They can also reside in brackish water habitats.

The trapper relocated the gator to a “safe location,” according to the sheriff’s office. However, FWC officials told WFLA-TV that the gator will be harvested for its meat and hide.

The alligator was 12-15 feet long, the sheriff’s office said. It reportedly weighed nearly 300 pounds.
(Pasco County Sheriff’s Office)


The agency doesn’t relocate nuisance gators because they often return to their capture site, according to its website. Releasing the reptiles into remote areas can cause problems for the already healthy alligator populations, resulting in fighting or death.

About 1.3 million alligators inhabit all 67 counties in Florida, according to the agency.

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