ASTOR, Fla. – A giant, aggressive alligator that forced a terrified Florida teen up a tree was protecting her nearby nest, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The Lake County Sheriff's Office said a 15-year-old Titusville girl was floating on a raft in Freak Creek in Astor on Friday when the eight-and-a-half foot reptile approached. Petrified, the girl made a beeline for the shore but the beast refused to let up, even when the teen climbed a tree to escape.
Wildlife officials later realized that the protective predator was unwilling to leave the girl be -- even more than half an hour after the she initially made her way up the tree -- because the matronly monster had a nest nearby.
While the creature couldn't climb, it did hiss and push its limbs against the base of the tree.
The ordeal ended when a deputy who responded to a 911 call from the girl's mother arrived on scene and used his department-issued Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle to shoot the creature straight in the cranium.
The behemoth corpse was found Friday night.
"The FWC places the highest priority on public safety. When someone concerned about an alligator calls FWC’s toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286), we will dispatch one of our contracted nuisance alligator trappers to resolve the situation," FWC officials said in a news release.
The agency also urges Floridians to remain cautious in the water and to never feed alligators or any other wildlife. For more tips on how to safely live with gators, click here.