TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is warning Floridians about alligators as temperatures heat up and more people flock to the state’s lakes, rivers and wetland areas.

FWC said warm temperatures also mean that alligators are more active and visible.

Serious injuries caused by alligators are rare but three people, including a 13-year-old girl, were hurt in Tampa Bay this month.

The FWC said that Floridians should take the following precautions when in and around water to prevent conflicts with alligators:

  • Keep a safe distance if you see an alligator.
  • Never feed an alligator. When fed, alligators can lose their natural wariness and instead learn to associate people with the availability of food. This can lead to dangerous circumstances for yourself and other people who could encounter the alligator in the future.
    • Feeding alligators is illegal and dangerous in Florida. If you see someone feeding an alligator, call FWC’s Wildlife Alert at 888-404-FWCC or visit here.
  • Swim only in designated swimming areas during daylight hours. Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn.
  • Keep pets on a leash and away from the water’s edge and never let them swim in fresh or brackish water even for short periods of time. Pets often resemble alligators’ natural prey. Allowing your pet in the water for even short periods to cool off or play can result in its death.
  • Call the FWC’s Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-392-4286 if you believe an alligator poses a threat to people, pets or property and the FWC will dispatch a contracted nuisance alligator trapper to resolve the situation. The FWC places the highest priority on public safety and administers a Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP) to proactively address alligator threats in developed areas, while conserving alligators in areas where they naturally occur.
  • Find more resources about living with alligators by clicking here.

According to FWC, Florida has a healthy and stable alligator population. The population is estimated at 1.3 million. Gators are found in all 67 Florida counties.