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Is it safe to go into the water? Leon County alligator attack prompts concern

We went to the experts to get answers
Posted at 6:32 PM, Jun 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-04 18:33:00-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Frightened and concerned. That's the reaction on social media after a 5-year-old girl was attacked by an alligator in Lost Lake in Leon County over the weekend.

Many people are asking the question: Is it safe to go into the water? So we went to the experts to get answers.

In the spring and warmer months in Florida, alligators are most active.

"Just be aware in any body of water, an alligator can occur," said Rebekah Nelson, a public information officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. "We have alligators in all 67 counties in Florida. So if you are recreating in a river or lake in Florida the possibility of an alligator being there is one."

But if you're so concerned about alligators that you don't want to be near the water at all, Florida Fish and Wildlife says you don't have to take it that far.

"We're not telling people to stay out of certain lakes. We just want people to know we have a lot of alligators in Florida," said Nelson. "Just take some safety measures before entering the water."

Safety measures like swim only in designated swimming areas during daylight hours. Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn. You should also keep pets on a leash and away from the water's edge. They're just the right size to become an alligator's dinner.

And if you happen to see an alligator in a lake or river where you are swimming, Nelson's advice is to stay out of that water for the rest of the day just to be safe.

"Serious injuries caused by alligators are rare in Florida, but we place the highest priority on public safety," Nelson explained.

People with concerns about an alligator should call FWC's toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline. That number is 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286). FWC will dispatch a contracted nuisance alligator trapper to resolve the situation.