Tuesday, July 25, 2017


I read about another alligator-on-human attack in Florida today.

For all of my reading life and note-taking in my many outdoor adventures (you can better believe I always have done my freaking research when I go out into the wild) I would read that alligators are essentially harmless to humans. Over and over and over. Time after time I would read this and hear this. To the point that several times in my trips on Florida and south Georgia creeks and ponds I would go swimming with alligators nearby.

I was misinformed, for sure. And I was lucky that I was never attacked (I did have a close encounter with a big alligator that taught me that all of the "facts" I'd read about how they were harmless to people were so much bullshit). But why would anyone say this about an apex predator that can kill and dismember and eat large prey up to the size of horses?

It was because from the 19th Century until relatively recent years the alligator was actually a threatened species. Their numbers had dwindled so much due to over-hunting that they were approaching dangerous levels for the species. Then, in the 1960s they were protected. Harvesting was limited and ecosystems were put into parks and wilderness.

Alligator populations rebounded. With a vengeance. And, more importantly, they were allowed to live to be old. In the days when they were under threat there were almost no older, larger alligators. That is, there were very few gators who could seriously look at a human being as a prey animal--and those few were safely tucked away inside wildernesses where they were unlikely to ever see a human.

Not now. Now I see enormous alligators almost everywhere I go in Florida. 8-foot alligators are now routine. And we've all seen the film of the monster alligator on that golf course. You can better believe predators of that size would look at a 200-pound human being as nothing more than something good to eat.

These days I do not go swimming in rivers or creeks or springs in Florida unless I am DAMNED sure that there are no large alligators around.

It ain't worth the risk.

And, yes, I'm sure everyone has seen this video. I've heard it said that this alligator is between 16-17 feet in length. Keep in mind this is nowhere near the largest recorded gator which was almost 20 feet long. It's time to be careful when you go swimming in the deep South.

Be careful out there.

One of the largest alligators I have seen in Florida. He was at Wakulla Springs State Park. Very fat. Very healthy. Very damned intimidating. I would not swim around this animal.

I've heard it said the alligator in this video is 16-17 feet long. That is not as long as the largest on record (over 19 feet). It would look at you as something to eat.

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