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Please don't feed the alligators

By A Treasure Coast essay by Paul Janensch


Fort Pierce, FL – Alligators stay away from humans, except when they think we are a source of food, as Paul Janensch warns us in the Treasure Coast essay.
In September, a 10-foot long alligator attacked and killed a pet Labrador retriever in a Jensen Beach residential area. The gator's home was probably a freshwater marsh in nearby Savannas Preserve State Park. When it's warm - over 82 degrees - alligators are active and looking for food on the Treasure Coast and all over Florida. Down in Boynton Beach, a family woke up to find a 5-foot alligator in their swimming pool. Over in St. Petersburg, a trapper caught a 12-foot alligator that had eluded capture for years in a neighborhood near the downtown. Don't ever feed alligators, warns the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. That makes them associate humans with food. If you are bitten by an alligator - a rare occurrence - seek immediate medical help. An alligator bite can result in a serious infection. If you encounter an alligator under 4 feet in length, just leave it be --- unless it's in your swimming pool or garage. If you encounter one over 4 feet in length, it can be a threat to people and pets. Call 866-FWC-GATOR - that's 866-FWC--G-A-T-O-R. A trapper will come to capture it. Usually, it's not practical to relocate a large alligator. So let's just say the trapper dispatches the gator to that big freshwater marsh in the sky. For 88.9 FM, this is Paul Janensch.

Treasure Coast essayist Paul Janensch was a newspaper editor and taught journalism at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.