Woman says she witnessed man harassing gator on Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Woman sharing story to bring awareness

APOPKA, Fla. – DeBary resident Tammy Lovell is sharing pictures she say she snapped after witnessing a man kicking and harassing a gator along the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive on Christmas Day.

She and her husband go out to the drive at least once a week to take pictures of wildlife.

"I noticed the people over there very, very close to this alligator, so the camera that I had, I zoomed in on him and I could see he was actually kicking the gator, nudging him with his and foot and whatnot," Lovell said. 

She said another man witnessed it as well and called 911. Lovell says it wasn't long before Orange County deputies arrived. 

"I was shocked, mad, very upset," Lovell said. "They did seem very interested the way they were looking for them, trying to find them."

Lovell said she hopes the man is found, but is also sharing this story to bring awareness that not only is coming in contact with alligators dangerous; in some circumstances, it's illegal. 

"People need to be very mindful of their surroundings and just educate yourself on what is out there and what can happen if you don't show respect to these animals that they deserve," she said.

According to a brochure posted on The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission website, "State law prohibits killing, harassing or possessing alligators. Handling even small alligators can result in injury."

FWC officials said they are investigating the woman's claims.

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