Many people said that Florida is an appealing place to live , thanks in large part to it’s relatively affordable cost of living and it’s almost invincibly warm climate. But as with any state or geographic region, it is not without certain negative issues, as well. The humidity for one does not make a strong case for becoming a Floridian and the threat of hurricanes understandably makes potential residents more than a little nervous. A third hazard of the Sunshine State is one that is rare, but serious, it is the risk of an alligator attack.
Dr. Ricky L. Langley, in conjunction with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, analyzed a long-term statistics on injuries and fatalities caused by alligator attacks and determined that one is nine times as likely to be the victim of a alligator in Florida as they are in the next most dangerous state, South Carolina.
Perhaps this infamous characteristic is attributable to the largeness of the state’s alligator population. With estimates exceeding 1.5 million gators in the state, people only out number their crocodilian counterparts by a 12.5:1 ratio.
A little crunching of the numbers tells us that more than 46 incidents occur and over 17 alligators have to be relocated for safety reasons daily. It is a dangerous proposition and a costly one. But most importantly, it illustrates that alligator attacks and encounters are a real, tangible part of Florida life.
The tendency of metropolitan growth, sprawl, and development has always been to seize control of wilderness and to reshape it to the needs of a community. In Florida, this has meant that more cities and towns are reaching deeper within the realms of an alligator’s natural habitat, placing an ever-growing number of residents at increasing risk of a run-in with an irate and aggressive alligator. To put the scope of the situation into perspective, consider that each year there are 17,000 calls made to report a nuisance associated with the presence of an alligator. 6,000 of those (more than 1 in 3) require the removal of an alligator from someone’s property or a public and occupied space.
Most Common Activities at Time of Injury
This report is issued by Dr. Langley contained an accounting of the activities most often associated with becoming the victim of an alligator attack. These are the most dangerous alligator-baiting activities:
1.) Trying to capture/lift/exhibit an alligator (17.4 % of attacks)
2.) Swimming (16.7 % of attacks)
3.) Fishing-related activities (9.9 % of attacks)
4.) Retrieving golf balls (9.5 % of attacks)
5.) Wading/walking in Water (5.3 % of attacks)
6.) Snorkeling (4.3 % of attacks)
7.) Standing/walking/sitting along bank (3.6% of attacks)
8.) Pulling weeds or planting along bank (3.6 % of attacks)
Be mindful of your environment and beware in the presence of alligators when you do these various task. A little extra knowledge and caution just might save your life.
Here’s Your Sign
With all the damage that an alligator can do, it seems outright strange that people would try to catch, keep, or show these reptilian beasts. But the number one item on the list above indicates that there are a fair number of people who just do not seem to get it.
Instead of acting sensibly and leaving the alligators to their own device or in the care of professionals, some people get the wrongheaded move of having an alligator as a pet or security animal is a good idea. This reckless and ridiculous decision endangers both the foolish person who does it and the surrounding community.
Dog bites have the potential to be devastating, so can you imagine the horrors of an alligator attack perpetrated by an escaped “pet” or show animal. The law is very clear that as the victim of a alligator, you may be entitled to legal recourse against the owner if he was negligent in securing his animal and that negligence resulted in your injury. So, be careful out there in Florida. Things could get ugly in a snap.