'He lets me pet him:' Video shows Daytona Beach man feeding large gator

Man charged with resisting arrest without violence, refusing to accept citation

By Jon Jankowski - Digital journalist

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A Daytona Beach man was arrested after being accused of feeding an alligator in his neighborhood pond.

Paul Fortin was arrested on charges of resisting arrest without violence and refusing to accept a citation.

“It’s just unbelievable. They just pulled me right out of here, a 67-year-old veteran on Memorial Day with plans for that weekend,” Fortin said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said officers responded to the 100 block of Catriona Drive in Daytona Beach around 7 p.m. on May 22.

Law enforcement officials said Fortin told officers he was feeding turtles, despite being shown video of him feeding an alligator.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ALLIGATOR LAWS IN FLORIDA

Investigators said Fortin was issued a citation for feeding wildlife and he refused to sign the citation.

Authorities said Fortin tried to go in his house despite being told he was not free to leave several times.

Officers said investigators restrained Fortin to prevent him from going into his house.

Fortin was taken to the Volusia County Jail for refusing to sign a citation and resisting an officer without violence.

“It’s illegal. It’s totally illegal to do it. Did I know it? No. Did I know I couldn’t feed a turtle? Alligators, yeah, I kind of knew that,” Fortin said. 

FWC released a Facebook video of what appears to be Fortin feeding the gator he named Hank.

In the video, Fortin says Hank is a 10-footer and has been in the area for three years.

"C'mon baby. He lets me pet him, he is a good boy," Fortin said.

Fortin said Hank doesn't go to the other houses in the neighborhood.

"He's afraid of everything," Fortin said.

During the four-minute video Fortin said he sees gators, cranes and turtles in the area. 

If fed by residents, FWC officials said alligators can overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food.

The National Park Service said if an alligator keeps getting food from humans it might not be able to find food on its own down the road. 

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