TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida nature preserve was temporarily closed this week due to an “aggressive alligator,” authorities said.
WESH reports Palm Island Park, which is located in Mt. Dora, reopened on Monday morning.
According to the news station, an “aggressive 10-foot-plus alligator” was seen at the park on Sunday.
“It was 10 feet so that could do a lot of damage to somebody,” resident Chelsea Gandy said. “There’s so many people that come through here so they’re getting used to people.”
Authorities combed through the preserve Sunday and Monday morning in search of the reptile, but it was nowhere to be found.
The park reopened around 8 a.m. Monday. Police said hikers should use the boardwalk at their own risk.
According to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, alligators tend to be more active during the summer when temperatures are between 82 and 92 degrees.
“We’re in nesting season. That means mamas are very protective over their nests; over their babies, and they’re going to protect them to their last breath if that were the case,” Brandon Fisher, a Gatorland spokesman told WESH. “In nature preserves; if you’re outside; you’re hiking; you’re walking around – any kind of trail would be a perfect spot for a mama gator to build their nest.”
If you see an alligator, officials say you should keep your distance and not feed it. To report a nuisance alligator, call the FWC’s toll-free hotline at 866-392-4286.