Alligator bites man; man cited
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Media contact: Joy Hill, 352-258-3426
An alligator crossing the road in Sanford Monday
night got a surprise when a man decided to catch it and grabbed it
by its tail. But the alligator's surprise was nothing compared to
the man's when the reptile whipped around and bit him on the leg
and then ran into some bushes.
As if getting bitten once wasn't enough, the man,
who officials said appeared to be intoxicated, reached into the
bushes to grab the gator again, and it obliged him by biting him,
The gator was trying to get to some water when Dirk
Alan Willms, 44, (DOB 08/13/65), of 501 Lemon St., Sanford, decided
to catch it.
Eventually, Willms subdued the 45-inch alligator
and took it to his house. Someone who saw him with the alligator
reported it to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, which then
called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
FWC Law Enforcement Officer Naomii Tye responded to
the call, issued Willms a ticket for possessing an alligator, a
second-degree misdemeanor, and then released the small reptile in
nearby Lake Jesup. The maximum penalty for a second-degree
misdemeanor is 60 days in jail and $500 fine.
While Tye was filling out the citation, Willms
commented that he should have cut the gator's tail off and left it
where he caught it, and that he had caught several alligators in
the past and had never been bitten.
"If someone sees an alligator that they think is a
threat to public safety, they should call the FWC. They should
never try to catch it themselves, no matter how small it is," said
Tye. "As Mr. Willms found out, not only is it dangerous, it's
against the law."
Willms received minor punctures and lacerations,
and Tye instructed him to seek medical attention to avoid infection
from his cuts.
The moral of this gator tale is if something isn't
bothering you, leave it alone.
Catching and possessing alligators without a permit
is against the law. Violators should be reported to the FWC's
Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. Callers may remain
anonymous and may be eligible for a reward if their information
leads to arrest.