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See Ya Later Alligator...

Lakewood Ranch considers changing its alligator policy


LAKEWOOD RANCH —Alligators are an important part of Florida’s natural habitat and freshwater system. But some residents may be calling trappers to remove alligatorswithoutfollowingpolicies and guidelines, which can lead to death and sale of alligator skins.

Country Club resident Ron Jarvis said Thursday that residents are not following the policies on alligators stated in the deeds and covenant of the Country Club Community Development Districts and their homeowner’s manuals. As a result, the Lakewood Ranch Inter-District Authority is working out a “middle ground” option for CDD supervisors to consid-

er in January.

“Forwhateverreason,there arepeopleinourcommunity who find alligators offensive and want them destroyed,” Jarvissaid.“Morally,wedon’t have a right to do this just because an alligator crosses the street, moves from one pond to another, or lays on a golf course.

“This is not a nuisance,” Jarvis added. “I’ve seen dogs runningaroundwithoutleashes. People need to be aware of the deeds because they tell you exactly how to deal and co-exist with them, and I believe that 95 percent of the people have never read those deeds.”

TheFloridaFishandWildlifeConservationCommission has a statewide Nuisance Alligator Program in place designedtoreducethethreatof alligators to people and their property in developed areas. From its web site,, feeding an alligator is a criminal offense. Whenagatorisidentifiedfor potential removal, the property owner where the gator is located must provide consent. Once the FWC decides the gator is a threat, it will issue a permit to a trapper to capture and kill the alligator, according to FWC spokesman Gary Morse.

“What constitutes a threat is on a case-by-case basis. I wouldn’t care to speculate,” Morse said.

When residents contact the IDA — which they frequentlydo,saidlawyerAndy Cohen — and the resident insists on moving forward, the IDA will call the state, because staff intervention could lead to a costly misdetermination.

“IftheIDAstaffshoulddetermine, based on a series of questionswithresidents,that an alligator is dangerous or posesathreat,andthenifleft, theanimalcausesinjury,there may be a potential liability to the community and we need to be careful about minimizing this,” Cohen warned the CDD supervisors.

IDAexecutivedirectorEva Reypromisedherstaffwould present a “nice” balance option to the boards, one that is beneficial to the alligators and protective of the community.

“It would be very nonprudent to take this liability on,” Country Club West ChairmanJamesRogozesaid, ”but everyone has grown to accept the various gators in Lakewood Ranch, and they even have names and reputations.”


Ranch reporter can be

reached at 941-745-7010.

Follow her on Twitter @


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