One farm in Florida is making a name for itself as a place to find giant alligators. Employees at Outwest Farms posted this picture of a massive 13-foot alligator that was harvested last week by Cliff Lightsey in Okeechobee. It was the second large gator taken in the area recently after an even larger 15-foot reptile was killed by hunters in April. That animal was reportedly targeted because it was suspected of attacking, and even eating, cattle.
“It is hard to believe that something this big exists in the wild,” hunting guide Blake Godwin told Fox 13 at the time. “Hunting is a way of life for us, and we are very proud of it!”
Outwest Farms also doubles as a hunting outfitter, due in part to the abundant number of alligators and wild pigs in the area. While it may be good for one part of the business, having large predators nearby is decidedly a concern for the farm’s livestock. The 15-foot alligator captured in April weighed a staggering 780 pounds and had to be retrieved using a tractor. It was more than large enough to bring down a cow, and when farm employees discovered a half-eaten cow carcass in a pond, they naturally suspected it was the work of an alligator. Lee Lightsey, who owns Outwest Farms, told ABC 10 that he was grateful the hunters killed the 13-footer before it could make any moves on his cattle.
Alligators are generally not a threat to livestock or humans, but as large predatory animals, they can be very dangerous. Children are especially vulnerable to alligator attacks. Earlier this month, the snatching of a 2-year-old boy by an alligator near a Walt Disney World hotel made international headlines. The boy and his family were vacationing from Nebraska when he was taken by a large alligator in a lagoon near the resort. Despite his parents’ attempts to save him, the boy was dragged underwater by the alligator and drowned. His body was found several days later not too far from where he was taken.
Most native Floridians already know to be wary of waters where alligators reside. Lakes and waterways with an alligator presence are sometimes fenced off or issued with “no swimming” signs. Such signs were present at the lagoon where the boy was taken, but now some are calling for sterner measures, especially since the lagoon is so close to Disney World.
There are roughly 1.3 million alligators living in Florida, and according to state officials, there have been at least 23 fatal attacks on humans since 1973; 373 non-fatal attacks were recorded.