Woman at FWC meeting in Jacksonville stresses importance of alligator safety

Meeting began a day after deadly gator attack in Florida

A woman brought up alligator safety during a statewide meeting being held this week in Jacksonville.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A woman brought up alligator safety during a statewide meeting being held this week in Jacksonville.

The two-day Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission meeting began Tuesday, a day after an 85-year-old woman, identified by officials as Gloria Serge, was killed by a nearly 11-foot alligator while walking her dog beside a body of water in her Fort Pierce community.

“Tragic, you know, my sympathies go out to her and her family,” Carla Wilson said.

News4JAX spoke with Wilson on Tuesday at the FWC meeting. She was there for the report on the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program, which addresses alligator threats while also trying to protect where they live.

It was announced Tuesday that trappers could see an increase for each alligator captured from $30 to $50.

During the comment section, many trappers spoke about other problems with the program, while Wilson talked about how she would like the program to do more with safety.

“So many people are moving here to the state of Florida who may not be familiar with the alligator,” Wilson said. “Well, it’s vital that education is important such as not feeding alligators, not getting them used to humans.”

Wilson said this education could help keep people out of harm’s way and reduce alligator conflicts.

According to FWC, trappers respond to 15,000 calls for service annually, resulting in the capture of nearly 10,000 alligators.

They say there are 1.3 million alligators in the state.

From 1948 to 2021—there were 26 deaths caused by alligators in Florida.

Wilson said she hopes no more deaths happen this year but added that Floridians need to respect the reptiles.

“Most important thing is let them live in their world,” she said.

And Wilson said she is going to continue pushing for more alligator education as more people continue to move to the state.

If you are concerned about an alligator, you can call FWC’s Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286). To learn more about FWC’s Alligator Management Program, visit https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/wildlife/alligator/.

About the Author:

Khalil Maycock joined the News4JAX team in November 2022 after reporting in Des Moines, IA.