THE VILLAGES, Fla. – An "aggressive" 11-plus foot alligator that found its way onto the front porch of a home in The Villages was safely wrangled away from the neighborhood Saturday evening.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission contractor Al Roberts said he got a call from the agency around 6 p.m. detailing an emergency alligator situation on Conservation Drive. When he arrived, he found the 400-to-600-pound male gator near the front door of a home.
(Video above courtesy of Dennis Schimmel)
Luckily, Roberts said, the homeowner was out of town and it was a neighbor who spotted the animal and called FWC.
The first order of business was coaxing the creature into an open area where it would be safer to capture.
"We don't want to put a rope around an alligator that big in that confined area of the doorstep and it tear up the house, so we've gotta take our time to get the alligator out into an area where it's safe because obviously once you put a rope around an alligator or try to restrain any wild animal it's going to react, you know, pretty violently," Roberts said.
He estimates the animal was between 11 and 12 feet long and described it as aggressive.
"The minute that it seen a person it immediately, you now, started to hiss and come toward the person and as I walked over closer to it, it wanted to bite me," Roberts said.
Alligator mating season occurs between May and June, according to FWC, and during that time frame the reptiles are more likely to be out and about as the males travel in search of finding a female mate. Alligator mating season is a busy time for Roberts, who said he received three calls about nuisance gators just on Saturday alone.
As for the one in The Villages, he said it took about 20 minutes to complete the capture, all while it repeatedly barrel rolled and whipped its tremendous tail.
Roberts said he has regularly handled alligators this size during his 10 years working as a contractor for FWC, but for the small crowd of spectators that gathered, the sight was anything but par for the course.
“It’s pretty standard, it’s a lot of 'ooh' and 'aww' and wow factor of course, it’s kind of the norm especially with an animal that big,” Roberts said.
Once the animal's limbs were tied and its jaw was taped shut, it took three men to hoist it into the bed of Roberts' candy-apple red Chevrolet Silverado. Even then, the reptile's tail had to be coiled in so it could fit in the back of the truck.
Roberts said the alligator was taken to a USDA-approved alligator processing facility, which is standard for nuisance gators larger than 4 feet long.
The licensed trapper said that while some people may find that idea to be unpleasant, it's a necessary step to keep the community safe -- especially with large, aggressive males such as the one captured in The Villages -- and that's why he risks "life and limb" to make sure they are humanely captured.
“They have a very strong natural homing instinct and it’s not a matter of whether the alligator is gonna get back to the same spot that it was, it’s what he’s gonna encounter and the kind of human contact that will be encountered when he’s trying to get back, or she’s trying to get back, and that’s why there is not an alligator relocation process for an alligator over 4 feet,” Roberts said.
Millions of alligators call the Sunshine State home and while it's not unusual to encounter one, residents are urged to keep a safe distance and never try to feed or interact with them.