Gator bites person at popular Wa-Ka-Hatchee Park in Fort Myers
A wandering fisherman called for help after finding a man bitten by an alligator on Monday at the Wa-Ke Hatchee Park and Recreation Center in Fort Myers, an official with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported.
The man was seriously injured and was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital.
FWC agents were investigating the 4 p.m. attack at Bass Road Park, adjacent to Summerlin Road, late Monday afternoon.
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The Wa-Ke Hatchee Center offers a dog park, recreation and fitness center, picnic shelters and related amenities. The 50-acre site, opened in 2005, has a creek and several ponds on the property.
Senior FWC Officer Information Officer Adam Brown said the injured man was 60 years old and suffered bites and related injuries to his left shoulder, left arm and torso.
A rescuer found the victim wandering about a mile on the way to the power line behind Lexington Middle School.
“A fisherman saw it,” Brown said. “He brought help and called for emergency help. “
A pest alligator trapper under contract with the FWC was at the scene.
Dave Grob of Fort Myers, walking a rescue Labrador Retriever, Isaac, around one of the ponds in the park, said he was not worried.
“I’ve been coming here for years,” said Grob. “I usually see them (alligators).”
He said he never had a problem with reptiles.
“You just walk away from them,” he said.
Brown pointed out that there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood of an alligator attack:
“Don’t feed the alligators,” he said. “This tends to be our number one problem. If you feed them, you basically kill them.
He said that alligators that get used to being fed by humans become addicted and more aggressive.
He added that people should keep their pets on a leash in areas where alligators are known and be aware that almost every body of water in Florida likely has a resident alligator.
Larissa Mathews lives in a gated community near the park and brings her 10 month old Poodle / King Cavalier mix Chewie to the canine area.
She was not shocked by the attack.
“If it was near a lake, I’m not surprised,” she said. “We are trying to avoid this.”
She said Chewie was off-leash chasing a Frisbee and had recently chased a rabbit in the woods of Wa-Ke-Hatchee.
“I was really worried,” she said, especially since a bobcat had recently been seen in her community.
“I can’t let Chewie do this anymore,” she said
The FWC says serious injuries from alligators are rare in Florida.
The FWC places public safety as the highest priority and administers a National Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP) to address complaints about specific alligators considered to be a threat to people, pets, or property.
People with concerns about an alligator should call the FWC toll-free helpline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).