A 15-foot alligator that was allegedly chasing swimmers in a Florida river has been caught.
The reptile, which weighed about 270 to 300 pounds, was swimming after people in the Pithlachascotee River, near Durney Key—an island off the coast of Florida, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said.
No one was injured during the incident on Saturday, July 27. The alligator was captured with the cooperation of two government agencies and an alligator trapper named Rick Vetter—who told ABC Action News that the reptile is just one of thousands he’s caught.
“The water was pretty shallow so we were able to follow it with the boat,” Vetter said. He said he recently captured an alligator in a tennis court and another on a residential porch, this gator is the first he’s caught out in the water. “It’s unusual that’s the first one I’ve ever caught out in the gulf,” Vetter said.
The reptile was removed from the location and will be killed for meat and leather products, the broadcaster reported.
“Alligators occur in all 67 counties, inhabiting all wetlands where they can be supported. They prefer freshwater lakes and slow-moving rivers and their associated wetlands, but they also can be found in brackish water habitats and in saltwater for short periods of time. Anywhere there is standing water, an alligator might be found,” a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) spokesperson said in a statement obtained by ABC Action News.
FWC is one of the agencies that assisted in capturing the animal.
Authorities warned people spending time in water to keep an eye out and recommends that each group have at least one “spotter, ABC Action News reported.
The area around Pithlachascotee River is a popular swimming and scalloping spot.
Alligators Seen Dragging Body in Florida Lake
Also in Florida earlier this month, a body was found surrounded by about 10 alligators in a lake in St. Petersburg, according to local reports on July 4.
The body, which was decomposing, was found near mangroves in Lake Maggiore. Officials have not identified the remains and don’t know how the body got there, reported the Tampa Bay Times.
Witnesses told police they saw alligators dragging the body in the water, but officials don’t know the cause of death.
A body was found in a St. Petersburg lake. Police say an alligator was likely involved. https://t.co/DJyLnqdJk8
— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) July 4, 2019
“It is badly decomposed,” police department spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez told the paper. “We’re unable to tell anything about it—gender or race or anything.”
“It’s very, very hot and anybody that is, unfortunately, in this heat and that’s been in the water for a while is going to suffer decomposition,” Fernandez told Fox13, adding that there are signs that gators may have interfered with the body.
First responders had to move the body to a safe location, she added.
— FOX 13 Tampa Bay (@FOX13News) July 4, 2019
“At this time we cannot call it an alligator attack, simply that there were alligators around the body when we found it,” Fernandez told the station. “And that made it a little more difficult in getting to it.”
“In a case like this, we definitely want to check the shoreline so we’ve asked fire rescue to go around in the boat to see if maybe there are any personal effects, a backpack, information, a wallet,” she also told ABC Action News.
Otis Crawford and Patricia Kays, of St. Petersburg, discovered the body at around 8 a.m. local time on Thursday.
“It was hard to tell if it was a person or an animal,” Crawford told the Tampa Bay Times. “I got out of the car to make sure I was seeing what I was seeing.”
The couple then saw the alligators dragging the body, saying they began to eat it.
“I had to go back to the car after that. I couldn’t watch it anymore,” Kays said, adding that they told a city worker who then called the police.
The Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips contributed to this report.