JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – People living in the Hidden Lakes subdivision on Jacksonville's Southside are worried about their newest neighbor.
“If he gets too comfortable here, somebody’s going to get hurt," concerned neighbor David Wiggins said Wednesday.
The new resident is a 6-foot alligator that has been crawling out of a lake and into people’s backyards.
In Florida, it's natural to assume most ponds and lakes have at least one alligator living in it. But the gator in Crystal Lake inside the Hidden Lakes subdivision is a tragedy waiting to happen, Wiggins said.
He told News4Jax that he first saw the alligator last month, saying it's only the fourth gator ever spotted in the lake in the last 30 years.
“He’s 6-feet long now and, at this point, he’s skittish. I like him that way," Wiggins said. "But if he starts getting to the point where he’s not afraid of people, then somebody is going to get hurt. A 6-foot alligator will put you in the hospital or the morgue -- one of the two.”
Wiggins lives on Crystal Lake but doesn't have a fence to keep the alligator from crawling into his backyard. He also has two dogs, but no longer allows them to play in the yard while a gator is free to roam in search of its next meal.
“The problem is he doesn't just come out and stop. He has to come up into the yard, far enough -- at least at this point and time -- where he turns around and faces the water," Wiggins said. "That’s good because he’s ready to go if something approached him, but he comes up in the yard that far.”
What makes the situation even more dangerous is that there are people who actually swim in the body of water.”
“Kids swim. My kids swim in it," Wiggins said.
But now that a dangerous reptile with the power to kill with one bite has been spotted, neighbors are being warned to keep out of the water.
An alligator trapper was called Wednesday to remove the reptile, but so far, the gator has been smart enough to stay away from the trap.