In Florida there are more than 1.3 million alligators and are sharing territory with humans like never before.
Hours after a two-year-old boy was dragged into the water by an alligator at a Disney Resort in Florida, many are wondering, how often do alligator attacks happen in the sunshine state?
In an area teeming with alligators, fatal alligator attacks do not happen often, though a dozen or more bites are recorded a year, according to statistics from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Nick Wiley, executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which is spearheading the search for the two-year-old child, said alligators typically do not feed on humans. Wiley said the alligator likely confused the small child for a dog or a raccoon.
“People – even small people – are not their typical prey,” Wiley said.
In 2015, Floridians were rocked when the first fatal alligator attack since 2007, was reported to the wildlife officials.
According to state records on fatalities and injuries caused by alligator attacks, there have been multiple years-long stretches in Florida where there were no fatal attacks.
The statistics, which go back to 1948, show that the deadliest years for fatalities caused by alligator attacks were 2001 and 2006. Three people were killed each of those years.
That doesn’t mean there haven’t been small bites and major injuries caused by alligators. In 1977, there were 13 major attacks in Florida and one fatality.
Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Alligator Program coordinator Ricky Flynt said people can play a direct role in negating the likelihood of an alligator attack.
“Alligators are apex predators and they are wild animals,” Flynt said, noting that people should never feed them.
“The only time we have a situation of serious concern is when someone has been feeding an alligator,” Flynt said. “They begin to lose their fear of humans and associate them with a source of food.”
And while it may be tempting to snap a close-up picture of an alligator, it’s vital to give them their space and refrain from swimming in areas where there are alligators or warning signs that there could be.
“More times than not, the other scenario is when someone is swimming at night where alligators are known to inhabit,” Flynt said. “Alligators are largely nocturnal. People swimming at night can be mistaken for prey.”
Source | http://www.usatoday.com