An alligator severely attacked a homeless woman’s leg, arm, and hand after falling into a canal in St. Petersburg, Florida on Monday.
According to People (via MSN News), the incident happened about 6 a.m. between 4th Street and 18th Avenue South, near a bridge over Salt Creek. It’s a well-known spot for homeless individuals to sleep beneath the bridge and along the shoreline.
Dale Mastry told Fox13 News that the woman slept at the edge of the wall. The person then fell and splashed to the alligator’s spot. The alligator immediately reacted as it would, Mastry added.
Mastry’s family has operated a bait and tackle store in the neighborhood for almost 50 years. He doesn’t remember any prior alligator assaults in the region, he added.
Salt Creek, which flows from Lake Maggiore to Bayboro Harbor and is brackish at the scene of the event, runs from Lake Maggiore to Bayboro Harbor.
Residents may spot the alligators swimming up and down the stream every now and again, according to Mastry.
State wildlife authorities brought in a trapper. They removed the alligator a few hours later. It was 10 feet 11 inches long, according to reports.
Police said responders took the victim, in her 50s, to hospital with serious injuries and is now stable.
Florida Alligator Attacks in Numbers
There is still a risk of human-alligator conflict, officials said. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission statistics show that there has been an average of seven unprovoked alligator attacks each year since 2009.
According to FWC statistics, there were 12 total alligator bites on people in 2020, with eight of them classified as “serious” attacks. When it comes to alligators, the FWC offers the following safety advice:
- Alligators that are less than 4 feet long are usually not hazardous unless they are touched. Call the Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWCGATOR if you see an alligator that you think is a danger to humans, pets, or property (866-392-4286). Please keep in mind that nuisance alligators are killed rather than moved.
- When you’re near or in fresh or brackish water, keep an eye out for alligators. When working or playing near water, bites may occur if individuals do not pay close enough attention to their surroundings.
- Do not swim outside of designated swimming places or in locations where big alligators may be present.
- Between dark and morning, alligators are most active. As a result, avoid swimming late at night.
- Dogs and cats are around the same size as alligators’ natural prey. Officials don’t recommend allowing dogs to swim, exercise, or drink in or near alligator-infested waterways.
- Alligators are attracted to dogs. Hence, officials encourage the dog owners not to swim with their pets.
- Alligators should be left alone. Alligators are illegal to kill, harass, or possess under state law. Even tiny alligators may be dangerous to handle.