TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Video from Tampa police body cameras shows the most Florida of Florida road hazards that officers encountered on Tuesday night.
Police were called to Howard Avenue near Kathleen Street by reports of an alligator.
When officers arrived, they found a very large alligator with an attitude in the street.
“He is 9 foot 4, and he is very fat and very healthy alligator. So, he was eating very well, wherever he was, probably out in the river,” said licensed trapper Phil Walters who was called to the scene to assist and remove the alligator.
“We’re here in the city and you just saw an apex predator walk in the streets,” said Walters who says now is the time of year when alligators are on the move.
“For the next two months, they are going to be very active crawling around. This is the time of year you find them underneath cars, they show up at your front door. They are moving around, mating season is going to start probably in another month or so,” said Walters.
It’s estimated there are more than 1.2 million alligators in Florida. They have recovered from 1967 when the species was placed on the endangered list and given Federal protections.
Walters says he’s removed alligators from places many would not expect to see them.
“This is the time of year to be really well aware of your surroundings. Look where you put your feet and hands, look before you jump in the pool. I’ve taken ’em out of pools this time of year,” said Walters.
As a licensed trapper he’s called to a variety of places to remove alligators, but he says not all alligators are a nuisance.
“The specific criteria for nuisance, if it’s under four feet, by law, it’s not a nuisance. If it’s been fed or is a threat to people, property or pets, livestock, then it is a nuisance,” said Walters.
Anyone who is concerned about an alligator that poses a threat to safety may call FWC’s toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-392-4286.