Yesterday there was a big story about a rather large alligator walking across a golf course in Englewood, Florida. The story made it sound like this is some kind of cosmic event, and how dare these golf courses not “protect” the golfers.
I’m here to remind everyone that the American Alligator was part of Florida long before white men trying to avoid fighting in the Civil War braved the mosquitos and swamps so they could hide. Back then, alligator hides offered them a means for living, but thankfully were never wiped out completely. These creatures are a part of our environment.
Years ago, Jim and I were golfing at a course in the Orlando area when we came upon an alligator lounging on the grass. We were Ohioans at the time, but knew that all we had to do was give the gator a wide berth. He wasn’t going to bother us.
Since then, I moved to Florida and learned certain rules:
1. Any fresh water is a place for a gator. Don’t wade into a pond or river without keeping that in mind.
2. Gators can run really fast–up to 35 miles per hour. Don’t antagonize.
3. Feeding gators makes us all unsafe. Stop feeding the gators, tourists!
4. In the spring, young gators are found dead on the road. They are young males kicked out of the pond by the bull male. They are simply looking for a new pond and their own females.
5. It’s fun to find gators. They hide well in the natural environment. The picture above is from a a nature preserve on Sanibel Island.
All in all, as a Floridian I know the presence of the alligator is always a possibility. I have learned to love them as much as I love so many other things about Florida. It is one of the things that makes our state unique. And frankly, I don’t think it warrants a newsflash.