VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A popular swimming hole in Central Florida has reopened after an alligator was captured.
Blue Spring State Park in Volusia County closed its swimming area because of the dangerous 7-foot beast, which was trapped early Wednesday morning.
A park ranger said the gator was spotted Tuesday evening in the spring's "safe zone." The area was evacuated, and officials posted a notice at the park and on social media.
"Our swimming area will be closed, for your safety, until further notice due to the presence of an alligator," officials posted to Facebook. "This means there will be no swimming, diving, snorkeling, tubing, canoeing or kayaking in the swimming area. As soon as the safety concern has been resolved, we will reopen our swimming area."
A trapper with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's SNAP program arrived late Tuesday and caught the gator about five hours later.
Officials said recent rains may have led to the incident.
"We're thinking this may have happened because of the rise in the river and just giving them more space to go in," said Cody Nolan, assistant park manager. "They are going to look for food and we don't want them to get confused and think that they should be trying to go after swimmers."
Park visitors were happy to hear that the swimming area reopened.
"It happens. It's nature," Jonte Janica said. "As long as it's cleared up, we should be fine."
"This is their home. We're in their territory," Katishia Najjar said. "So we have to understand that these things happen, but they took care of it, so now we're good. We're going to have a good day."
"We're going to keep a look out on the water just to make sure that nothing's going amiss, and we'll just proceed as we usually do," Nolan said.
The incident comes days after a teenage girl was chased up a tree by a large alligator in Lake County. A deputy shot and killed the gator before rescuing the girl, who was not physically injured.
A man was killed by an alligator while snorkeling at Blue Spring State Park in 2015.
Blue Spring State Park is known as a great manatee-viewing spot, among other outdoor activities.
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