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Venice man fights off aggressive alligator in his back yard

Venice gator
Posted at 3:30 PM, Sep 22, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-22 19:45:53-04

VENICE, Fl. -- A North Venice man was attacked by an alligator in his back yard recently. He is able to escape with just some puncture wounds to his calf. His family says he's lucky to be alive.

It happened Friday at the Venice Golf and River Club. That's where trappers were able to locate and trap the gator this weekend.

Earnest Sparks isn't the man who was attacked, but he does know a thing or two though about all the gators in the area and staying away. "I keep my distance. I leave them alone, they leave me alone."

Florida Fish and Wildlife officials say that one gator in a retention pond inside the gated community decided not to leave one of the residents alone.

"He was doing some weed eating along the edge of a lake, and was bit on the leg and ankle by an alligator," says Florida Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Gary Morse.

Tim Schimberg reports the gator attacked him from behind, taking him off his feet, and had to kick and fight his way out of its jaws. He receiving puncture wounds down his leg.

He didn't want to be interviewed Monday. In a response through Facebook, his wife tells ABC 7 "we are trying to put this behind us as it was a very traumatic experience, and we can only thank God that is was not more serious. The gator was 10 feet…around 300 lbs. So he was very lucky to have gotten away."

Trappers hired by FWC spent Friday and into Saturday successfully hunting it down. "Wildlife should show fear of people. It should not be too familiar with people. That's when people, pets, property, become targets," says Morse.

Many like Earnest think someone was likely feeding the gator causing it to associate humans and food. "There has got to be something that has provoked him in the past to make him aggressive towards people. Usually they are really docile."

FWC officials say bites and attacks are rare, but it's a good reminder to be aware of your surroundings -- especially as more of their areas are becoming our areas. "We are moving into their territory. What do you expect? I mean, you are going to have that problem."

The staff at the golf club tell ABC 7 that a second gator was actually spotted in the same pond. It too was removed.