Man intentionally hit alligator with lawn mower, destroyed active nest, wildlife officials say

Man charged with killing alligator, destroying nest

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A man operating a tractor mower is accused of dropping the mower blades on a 6-foot alligator and destroying an active gator nest in Daytona Beach, according to investigators with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

FWC was called to the property on North Tomoka Farms Road on June 10 at 11:16 a.m. for an injured alligator.

A witness told wildlife officials he saw a large tractor with a mower attachment clearing brush around a retention pond. The witness stated he saw the driver scare off a 6-foot alligator by hitting the water with the mower blades and then continue on. However, the alligator crawled back onto the bank and the tractor operator then turned around and drove back toward the creature, according to the arrest report.

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The witness said the driver again tried to scare the alligator back into the water but when the alligator moved farther up the bank, the driver dropped the mower deck on top of the alligator. The alligator went back into the water where an FWC officer found it suffering from mortal wounds.

The witness captured the whole incident and turned the video over to investigators. According to FWC, the video shows the mower blade drop on the gator’s back twice.

Screenshots from a video taken by a witness of an industrial mower blade injuring an alligator. (Image: FWC) (WKMG 2021)

The FWC report shows the mower blade was also dropped onto a debris pile that contained an active alligator nest, destroying several eggs.

The alligator had severe head lacerations and deformities to its skull and eyes. It also had deep cuts to its back, legs and tail. The officer wrote it was still alive but it had no use of its rear legs.

The gator was humanely euthanized to end its suffering, according to the report.

The driver of the tractor, Steven Dariff, 59, of Lake Helen, is charged with three counts of killing or capturing alligator eggs and one count of intentionally killing an animal with excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering.