TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Sarasota man was hospitalized with serious injuries following an alligator bite incident in Myakka City.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Eric Merda, 43, was bitten by the gator near Lake Manatee Fish Camp. They said he was in the water at the time.
Authorities responded around 5:30 p.m., and took Merda to a Sarasota Memorial Hospital where, as of Thursday, he is being treated for serious injuries to his arm.
The FWC is still investigating the incident, and an alligator trapper was dispatched to the scene. Officials told us Thursday that no gators had been removed from the body of water, but the trapper continues to monitor the area.
Alligators tend to be more active during the summer when temperatures are between 82 and 92 degrees. According to the FWC, an alligator is deemed a nuisance “if it is at least 4 feet in length and the caller believes it poses a threat to people, pets or property.”
The latest incident in Manatee County comes less than one week after an 80-year-old woman was killed by alligators in Englewood after falling into a body of water at a local golf course.
“If you live in Florida, if you’ve got a body of water next to you, it has got a gator in it, at least one and as long as you leave them alone, they will do the same,” said Justin Matthews with Matthews Wildlife Rescue. Matthews has been working with gators for decades and says it’s important never to feed them.
“When you are next to the edge of the water, if you see an alligator turn toward you, that gator has been fed. I hate to see it, but they do have to be killed because they are super dangerous when someone throws food to them,” said Matthews.
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.