Authorities in Central Florida said a 58-year-old man was injured by an alligator after his father found it on their property and shot it, according to a police report.
Reginald Blanton, 74, told Sumter County Sheriff’s deputies that he has had issues with alligators “terrorizing” his livestock, so when he saw a disturbance near his horses Tuesday evening in Bushnell, Fla., he went to check it out, according to the report.
He spotted the 300-pound gator, he told authorities, and shot it twice – and thought he killed it.
But Blanton told the deputies that when his son, Jackie Hildreth, walked over to the area to talk to him, the animal charged at his son – biting down on his leg.
The victim was rushed to a nearby hospital. Sumter County Sheriff’s spokesman Capt. Kevin Hofecker told The Washington Post Wednesday that the victim is in “stable but guarded condition” and is expected to make a full recovery.
“We don’t want these things to happen,” Chad Weber an officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told NBC affiliate WESH. “Alligator bites are a very rare occurrence, and we want to know what happened. How did this take place?”
Agency spokesman Greg Workman told The Post on Wednesday that a fish and wildlife trapper took possession of the alligator, which is now dead.
Following the recent alligator attack at a Disney resort in Orlando, animal expert Jack Hanna spoke out about the sometimes misunderstood creatures.
Typically, Hanna said, gators are intimidated by humans and leave us alone.
“The person is the last thing a gator wants to go for – they’re afraid of human beings,” he told Fox News. “However, if it was hungry when this thing was happening, and there were ankles splashing around there, that to the gator is something the gator may want.”
Hanna said alligators can be dangerous because they are hard to spot – and nearly impossible to outrun. He told major news stations that the best advice he can give to people is to maintain a safe distance.
He also warned people never to assume an alligator is dead, or to try to remove it.
When Sumter County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the Bushnell ranch Tuesday evening, Blanton was flagging them down, according to the incident report.
“Reginald stated his son had been bitten by a large alligator and he was still in the alligator’s mouth,” sheriff’s Deputy Toby Lockwood wrote in the report.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission trappers were called to the scene.
According to the report, when the alligator trappers arrived, they used a bang stick to hit the 8-foot, 8-inch animal over the head – ultimately killing it.
Workman, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said the agency’s investigators are still investigating Tuesday’s incident and have not been able to prove or disprove the police account.