LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A popular trail in Polk County is temporarily shut down to keep visitors and wildlife safe.

Polk County’s Parks and Natural Resources’ Environmental Lands program closed a portion of Alligator Alley Trail at Circle B Bar Reserve due to the start of alligator nesting season.

“There were lots of gators growling but we just walked quickly past,” visitor Julie Davidson told WFLA after spotting some alligators in the nearby Lake Hancock.

Those growls mean one thing: nesting season.

Environmental Lands Stewardship Coordinator Tabitha Biehl said alligators have begun making nests in the area.

“Like any good mother they want to protect their nests kind of thing,” she said.

“We keep an eye out on the trails, we monitor the trails for activity for a lot of different variety of things. It’s our job just to see what the wildlife is doing and keep an eye on that,” Biehl said.

Davidson and her family traveled from Ireland on vacation. One of their stops is always Circle B.

“We always come to see the gators and the birds as well,” Davidson said they still managed to catch a glimpse of some despite the trail closure.

According to county officials, visitors can still hike to the dock on Lake Hancock by hiking Shady Oak to Alligator Alley.

“The closing of the trail is temporary and necessary for the safety of our visitors and resident wildlife. This is their home and they chose where to lay,” Biehl said.

Experts anticipate that it will be closed for at least two months until after the young are hatched.STORIES OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON-