Are you near fresh or brackish water? Bites occur when people don’t pay attention to their surroundings near water.
Florida has 1.3 million alligators, and this is the time of year when they’re up and about.
You’ll find them anywhere there’s standing water.
So state wildlife officials are pushing some advice on how to live safely with them. You’re urged to swim only in designated areas and during daylight hours, to keep your pet on a leash and away from the water, and to never, ever feed the alligators.
Here are safety tips based on a list from the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission:
• Small alligators are not dangerous unless handled. But if you encounter an alligator that poses a threat to people, pets or property, call the Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWCGATOR (866-392-4286). Nuisance alligators are killed, not relocated.
• Are you near fresh or brackish water? An alligator could be nearby. Bites occur when people don’t pay attention to their surroundings near water.
• Do not swim outside posted swimming areas or in waters where large alligators live.
• Avoid swimming at night.
• Alligators eat dogs and cats. Don’t let them swim, play or drink in or near waters that may contain gators, and don’t swim with your dog.
• Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits killing, harassing or possessing alligators.
• Never feed alligators — it’s dangerous and illegal. They may overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food.
• Dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans at boat ramps and fish camps. Do not throw them into the water. Although you are not intentionally feeding alligators when you do this, the result can be the same.
• Seek immediate medical attention if you are bitten by an alligator. The bites can result in serious infections.
• Observe and photograph alligators only from a distance.