Let’s face it. It’s been a weird winter season for Florida. We’ve had some great cold spells. But in between those cold spells were some unseasonable highs, aka a mild winter, which led to many of Tampa’s oak trees beginning their spring pollination dance a couple of months too early. What else is happening a little unseasonable early? Well, kind of unseasonably by Florida standards — Alligator mating season. We’ll explain.
The typical alligator mating season is supposed to occur in the later part of spring April / May and go into the summer. Last year we had some a similar pattern of winter blasts followed by warm weather between the months of December and April, which led to the oak trees dropping pollen around this same time — too early. We also noticed news reports on alligator sightings in people’s yards and pools began unseasonably early, last year, as well.
From personal experience, we may also have seen a couple of peacocks vying for attention from their peahen mates a couple months earlier than normal, as well. The plumage is a beautiful sight, nonetheless. Their squawking on the other hand, not so much.
But back to the alligator situation. Trappers are saying that although the alligators are more present right now, it doesn’t mean that gators will be more aggressive to humans. Their interests lie with one another, not so much us.
According to a trapper interviewed by WFTV of Titusville, the trapper believes that “Alligator courting season in Florida has started around April, but it looks like it may have started as soon as February this year.” Some trappers according to the station are finding pregnant gators.
In the last week of March leading up to March 31 (today), 3 alligator removal stories from Central Florida hit the social media circuit. One came from Tampa with a gator being removed from someone’s front yard while it was still dark outside. A Tampa PD cruiser had to have its floodlight fixed on the gator while trappers wrangled it for safe removal. A Titusville resident reported a gator sighting in his yard, he thought it was a palm frond. He called authorities right away for its removal while keeping sight of the gator, out of fear for kids participating in Easter egg hunts on Sunday morning. The gator was about 7-feet long and wasn’t happy to have its Saturday interrupted.
Another sighting from today was posted by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Facebook Page, “Just when you think your #TweetFromTheBeat is off to a slow start, you get a call for a #gator in a swimming pool. :O #Florida #OnlyInSarasota #SOS #SendHelp[.]” This gator was estimated to be 11-feet long.
There’s a problem with one of those hashtags. It’s not just happening in Sarasota, it’s anywhere in Florida having warmer than usual weather making wildlife feel like spring has sprung. So, gators are going to be a little more present than normal. This also means we need to be good stewards. As their human neighbors, and realistically a means to keep them and us mutually safe in our respective habitats, we need to be mindful of our actions if a gator is present.
This means that if you see a gator in the water, you do not go in the water for a better look, you do not throw bread (or other food) out to it to get a better look, and you most certainly do not try to go fishing. If it can see you, it can see your food being thrown in the water, or your bait or a freshly caught fish. And that would be very much of interest to a gator.
So, if you spot a gator, you can call your local police department, 911 and they will patch you over to the non-emergency line if need be, or you can call Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation’s Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR. You can also learn more about the FFWC’s Alligator Management Program by going to http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/alligator/.