ENGLEWOOD — There’s nothing unusual about sharing a swim with strangers in the public pool at the Ann & Chuck Dever Regional Park in Englewood.
However, swimming with an alligator — even if its no more than 2-feet long — is a whole different situation.
“He acted like he was on vacation,” Amelia Robinson said, describing the gator as disrupting an aquatic aerobics class Monday.
Lifeguards and park staff evacuated a half-dozen swimmers at the public pool in Englewood when a small gator decided to take a dip. It’s not the first time, Charlotte County spokesman Brian Gleason said. The gator made an appearance in the pool last week.
The gator normally inhabits stormwater retention ponds at the park.
“Staff is trained to remove snakes, lizards and other wildlife,” Gleason said. County Natural Resources staff was called, but the park staff was able to corral the gator and remove it from the pool.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission defines a nuisance alligator as those 4 feet or larger. The alligator must also pose a threat to people, pets or property.
However, even though gators less than 4 feet in length are not large enough to be dangerous to people or pets, wildlife officials say people should “never should handle an alligator, even a small one, because it’s dangerous and illegal.”
No matter the size of the gator, the public is advised to call Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286). When necessary, the state will send a contracted nuisance alligator trapper to resolve the situation.