News Releases

FWC concludes alligator incident investigation; confident responsible alligator removed

News Release

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Media contact: Tammy Sapp, 850-228-1353

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has suspended alligator trapping activities in the area of the Seven Seas Lagoon where a fatal alligator incident occurred last week.

The FWC is confident that the alligator responsible for the attack has been removed. This conclusion is based on expert analyses and observations by staff with extensive experience in investigating fatal alligator bite incidents. The conclusion took into account the proximity to the attack site of removed alligators and witness descriptions.

“There are no words to describe the profound sadness we feel for the family of Lane Graves,” said Nick Wiley, executive director of the FWC. “We will continue to keep this family close to our hearts as they deal with the pain and grief of the loss of Lane.”

Out of an abundance of caution, the FWC continued intense round-the-clock monitoring and trapping efforts until either a positive identification of the alligator involved was established or all alligators fitting the description of the responsible animal had been removed. During the investigation, trappers humanely removed six alligators from the area. No additional alligators of the size capable of the attack have been observed or taken since June 16. 

Investigation Facts

Based on information and evidence gathered to date and the collaborative efforts of FWC law enforcement investigators, FWC subject matter experts and a forensic odontologist, the following conclusions have been made:

  • FWC Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program trappers captured three alligators in the size range believed to fit the subject animal.
  • Two of the animals captured were in close proximity to the incident location. Based on past experience, the alligator responsible is usually located in close proximity to the attack site.
  • Round-the-clock monitoring and trapping efforts have not produced alligators of the size capable of the attack since June 16.
  • In total, FWC humanely removed six alligators from the immediate area of the attack. This area is poor alligator habitat that will not support a large population of adult alligators.
  • FWC subject matter experts are very confident that, based on the totality of the evidence, the alligator responsible for the attack has been removed.
  • While results of a bite analysis were inconclusive, subject matter experts were able to conclude that either of the two suspect alligators captured near the attack site were capable of inflicting the observed wounds.
  • DNA was collected from the victim and all alligators captured. Results from the victim’s wounds were negative for animal DNA, and no comparison could be made

Alligator attacks are a very rare occurrence in Florida. FWC works diligently to keep Floridians and our visitors safe and informed on what to do if they spot a potentially dangerous alligator. The Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP) is one component of Florida’s comprehensive Alligator Management Program. People with concerns about an alligator should call FWC’s toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286). SNAP uses contracted nuisance alligator trappers throughout the state to remove alligators believed to pose a threat to people, pets or property.

FWC Facts:
Almost all of the funding for FWC research and management of Florida panthers is provided by Floridians who purchase “Protect the Panther” license plates.

Learn More at AskFWC