|Photo by Larry Harter|
Natural Resource Agent
Many Pinellas County parks and preserves post “DO NOT FEED” the alligator signs around lakes and ponds. These educational signs teach the public about the dangers of feeding alligators while also helping to protect alligators from unnatural interactions with humans. These signs are increasingly important as human population increases have placed tremendous pressure on wildlife habitat. The list below highlights some of the reasons for educating the public about the urban-wildlife interface:
- Habitat destruction has forced many alligators to adjust to living in a world surrounded by man.
- When people feed alligators, they lose their fear of humans and begin to relate man with food.
- Once alligators become a “nuisance” or even life-threatening, personnel are called in to evaluate the situation and remove the alligator if necessary.
- Alligators that are “removed” are typically killed and processed for their meat and hide. Occasionally they are sold to an alligator farm, exhibit or zoo.
The lesson here is that alligators are native and wild animals that are best if left alone. Mid-April through May is mating season for the alligators, making both males and females more aggressive. Avoid becoming gator bait; read the signs and follow the law.
For more information on the American Alligator, please visit the sources below: