A Florida man landed in a hospital after an attack by an alligator that’s still on the loose.
William Simmons, 60, was walking through a wooded area of Wa-Ke Hatchee Park and Recreation Center in Fort Myers, the Miaimi Herald reports. It was around 4 p.m. Monday. That was when he ran into the alligator.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer Adam Brown told the Herald that Simmons “suffered bites and related injuries to his left shoulder, left arm and torso.”
Florida Man in Critical Condition
After the alligator attacked Simmons, a fisherman found Simmons wandering along an access road behind a middle school. The angler performed first-aid measures. Then he called 9-1-1.
Simmons arrived at the hospital with “serious” injuries. His condition Tuesday was critical.
Fish and Wildlife officers have so far been unable to speak to Simmons. So they are awaiting further details about the alligator. But trapping efforts are underway.
Brown said it is “rare” for alligators to attack humans this violently, at least in Florida. Alligators populate the southeastern U.S. They live primarily in freshwater swamps and marshes, but also in rivers, lakes and small bodies of water. According to the National Park Service, they are a keystone species of the Everglades ecosystem.
Alligators were once endangered due to hunting and habitat loss. They were listed as an endangered species in 1967. Even after hunting alligators was banned in Florida, poaching of the reptile for its skin, which produces valuable leather, continued to deplete the population. But then laws governing the movement of alligator hides were tweaked, and alligators eventually left the endangered species list. The population has since rebounded and is currently thriving in Florida.
Steps Everyone Can Take to Avoid Alligator Attacks
Fish and Wildlife officials offered some safety tips on how to avoid alligator run-ins for people in areas where the reptiles make their habitat.
For one thing, pets should be kept on a leash and away from the edge of the water. Alligators often confuse them for their natural prey.
For another, do not swim outside designated swimming areas, do not swim outside daylight hours and do not swim with your pet. Alligators are at their most active between dusk and dawn.
Never feed alligators. It is hazardous for both humans and alligators. Alligators who become habituated and learn to associate people with food will be more likely to have dangerous interactions with humans.
If you spot an alligator, stay away from it and call Fish and Wildlife’s Nuisance Alligator Hotline (866-392-4286). Fish and Wildlife agents will send a contracted nuisance alligator trapper to remove the alligator from the premises.