The massive 12-foot alligator that swam up to a paddleboarder at Silver Springs State Park last September has been killed.
Park officials hired licensed trapper Al Roberts to catch and kill the animal because authorities believed it was a threat to humans. According to Fresh Take Florida, Roberts shot the alligator in the head on February 22. And its body, hide, and meat were taken to a processor.
In a viral video, paddleboarder Vicky Reamy Baker caught the alligator stalking her in the crystal clear water of Ocala, Florida. When the animal approached Baker, she tried to push it away with her paddle. But instead of leaving, the gator hissed, bared its teeth, and continued to pester her.
Luckily, the gator did not hurt Baker.
But that wasn’t the first time that the animal showed interest in park goers. It was popular for sunning on the beach and hanging out near highly populated areas. Wildlife officials believe that the gator had become too comfortable because people had been feeding it.
A Professional Alligator Trapper Shot and Killed the Animal that Approached a Florida Paddleboarder
According to the Associated Press, in January, park ranger Brooke Doran filed a formal complaint saying that the alligator could attack people, pets, and property.
The giant reptile met its end through Florida’s Nuisance Alligator Program. The purpose of the program is to “proactively address alligator threats in developed areas while conserving alligators in areas where they naturally occur.”
Florida’s Nuisance Alligator Program has very little tolerance for menacing gators. And unfortunately for this particular alligator, approaching a paddleboarder broke the rules. So, officials had to euthanize it.
“There is no three-strikes-and-you’re-out system,” Chad Weber, a spokesperson for the FWC said. “In this case specifically, there was nothing out of the ordinary that caused the alligator to be harvested. The behavior it exhibited was becoming dangerous.”
Al Roberts hunted the animal just before the spring mating season began. Because when males like this one begin looking for a mate, they tend to become more aggressive.
According to the Fish and Wildlife Commission, it’s uncommon for alligators to harm humans. But it does happen. And usually, it’s because people feed the animals as they did in this case.
“Although many Floridians have learned to coexist with alligators, the potential for conflict always exists,” the FWC wrote on its Living with Alligators and Crocodiles webpage. “Remember, never feed an alligator and keep your distance if you see one. Swim only in designated swimming areas during daylight hours. And keep pets on a leash and away from the water.”