Hunt Launched for Alligator That Attacked Florida Teen

A hunt has been launched for an alligator that attacked a 13-year-old girl near a boat ramp in Florida.

The alligator had been lurking near Gardner Boat Ramp in Zolfo Springs, Hardee County at about 2.30 p.m on Sunday, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) spokesperson told Newsweek in an email.

The alligator bit the teen, who was then rushed to hospital. FWC said she is in a stable condition. It is not currently clear where the girl was bitten.

A licensed nuisance alligator trapper was then sent to the area of the attack to search for the culprit. A full investigation of the incident is underway.

Alligator
A stock photo shows an alligator bearing its teeth. A teen in Florida was rushed to hospital on Sunday after being attacked by an alligator. williamhc/Getty

Florida is home to 1.3 million alligators. They can be found in all 67 counties of the state, that is home to more than 21 million people.

FWC operates a statewide nuisance alligator program, which keeps tabs on threats the reptiles pose in developed areas. An alligator may be considered a nuisance if, "it's at least 4 feet in length and believed to pose a threat to people, pets or property," FWC says on its website. Nuisance alligators are euthanized and not relocated, as they will often attempt to wander back to the site of their capture.

Despite the state's abundant alligator population, attacks remain very rare. Alligators, while territorial, will only usually attack if provoked.

However there are some exceptions. Some alligators may display unprovoked, aggressive behavior if they become used to being fed. This can lead to them becoming bolder, and more prone to approaching people.

It is unclear whether the attack on the Florida teen was unprovoked.

According to FWC, there are on average about seven unprovoked alligator attacks in Florida every year year. The number of attacks had increased by about 3 percent in recent years, according to a 2016 CNN report.

Sunday's incident is not the only attack to occur recently.

On July 15, an 80-year-old woman died after an alligator attacked her at a golf course in Englewood, Florida, USA Today reported. Less than a week later, just 30 miles away, a 43-year-old man was also attacked and treated for serious injuries.

Prior to that, a man died from a suspected alligator attack on May 31, near a lake shore in Largo.

Florida is not the only state where alligator attacks happen—a South Carolina man was also killed by an alligator in Myrtle Beach on June 24.

Alligators are typically more active in the summer months, during their mating season.

Update 7/26/22 EDT 6.30 a.m: This article has been updated to include comment from a spokesperson for FWC.