Three children vacationing in Florida caught the attention of authorities after they reportedly placed a noose around a gator’s neck in an attempt to drag it to shore.
According to Florida Today, the three kids, aged 16, eight, and six, respectively, were visiting Fay Lake Wilderness Park in Port St. John from their home in California. Officials from the Florida Wildlife Commission and Brevard County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Thursday incident, which occurred around 5:30 p.m.
By the time authorities arrived, however, the alligator had gone back into the lake—with the noose still around its neck. In response, an alligator trapper was called to the scene to assist with removing the rope safely. The trapper also moved the alligator from the lake, as is standard practice in instances like this one.
Following the ordeal, the 16-year-old was given a citation “for feeding, enticing or molesting alligators,” said Florida Today. Additionally, they were “educated on alligator safety in Florida.” The two others, both significantly younger, were not cited for their involvement.
Explained wildlife commission spokesperson Chad Weber, “They weren’t familiar with the laws in the state of Florida.”
In cases where human intervention or harassment causes an alligator to become agitated and potentially dangerous, the creatures are typically relocated. If deemed necessary, they may also be euthanized. According to Florida Today, Weber didn’t know which course of action was taken following this particular incident.
As stated in Florida’s legislature, it’s illegal to “to intentionally kill, injure, possess, or capture, or attempt to kill, injure, possess, or capture, an alligator or other crocodilian, or the eggs of an alligator or other crocodilian, unless authorized by the rules of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.” Doing so amounts to a third-degree felony in the state.
For many Floridians, however, coexisting alongside alligators and other reptiles is a normal part of daily life. Last week, it was reported that a Parrish, Florida homeowner caught sight of an adult gator approaching his front door, as captured by his doorbell camera.
Only days earlier, an alligator snuck into the lobby of a post office where it was discovered by a shocked customer. The gator was safely caught and removed from the building by a trapper.
However, not all alligator sightings are as benign as these two. For example, one woman in Pinellas County, Florida was recently attacked while walking her dog near a lake. The over-seven-foot gator caused serious injury to one of the woman’s legs, and she was taken for treatment at a nearby hospital.