New alligator warning signs near dog park
Signs warning visitors to Dog Leg dog park in Palmetto of possible alligators in the area were installed following citizen complaints.
The signs, which warn about possible alligators and snakes, were installed Tuesday, said Nick Azzara, spokesman for Manatee County.
County officials put up the signs outside the fenced perimeter of the dog park near Buffalo Creek park after the county received calls from citizens requesting the signs, Azzara said.
Behind the signs and outside the fence is an area that is mostly shrubbery and trees that is difficult to see through. There is a strip of mowed grass between the dog park fence and the area behind it.
Staff has also reached out to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to request an alligator trapper come to the area, according to Azzara. A trapper was sent to the park but as of Friday, had not secured a gator.
WFLA News Channel 8 reported that witnesses said they saw a chocolate lab that got loose on the other side of the fence was attacked and killed by a gator in the marshland beyond the line of thick vegetation on May 17.
Witnesses told the Tampa NBC affiliate they saw a lifeless dog covered in blood being carried out of the shrubs and trees. Another man told WFLA that at least three other dogs had been attacked by alligators.
A woman who had her two small dogs — a 3-year-old Jack Russell Terrier named Elsa and a 9-year-old mixed breed named Marley — at the park on Friday said she heard about the attack but was not nervous about bringing her dogs to the park as long as they stayed inside the fence.
She said she’s heard of encounters with snakes at the park in the past and is grateful the signs are now posted. She recommended those who bring their own dogs to the park not let their dogs run outside the fence.
Azzara said county staff members haven’t reported witnessing anything unusual at the park and they are not aware of any other attacks.
Those with concerns about a possible nuisance gator can call FWC’s Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).
FWC says alligators and snakes live in most Florida waterways and recommends keeping pets on a leash and away from water.
In 2018, FWC’s Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program removed 8,139 nuisance alligators.