The community’s inter-district authority is concerned that some club residents may be calling trappers to remove alligators without following policies and guidelines, and are developing a “middle ground” option as a result.
The Lakewood Ranch (Fla.) Inter-District Authority is working out a “middle ground” option on policies for dealing with alligators for Country Club Community Development District (CDD) supervisors to consider in January, the Bradenton (Fla.) Herald reported.
Alligators are an important part of Florida’s natural habitat and freshwater system. But some residents may be calling trappers to remove alligators without following policies and guidelines, which can lead to death and sale of alligator skins, the Herald reported.
Country Club resident Ron Jarvis said Thursday that residents are not following the policies on alligators stated in the deeds and covenant of the CDD and their homeowner’s manuals, the Herald reported.
“For whatever reason, there are people in our community who find alligators offensive and want them destroyed,” Jarvis said. “Morally, we don’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 said. “I’ve seen dogs running around without leashes. 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.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a statewide Nuisance Alligator Program in place designed to reduce the threat of alligators to people and their property in developed areas. From its web site, MYFWC.com/alligator, feeding an alligator is a criminal offense. When a gator is identified for 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 frequently do, said lawyer Andy Cohen—and the resident insists on moving forward, the IDA will call the state, because staff intervention could lead to a costly misdetermination, the Herald reported.
“If the IDA staff should determine, based on a series of questions with residents, that an alligator is dangerous or poses a threat, and then if left, the animal causes injury, there may be a potential liability to the community and we need to be careful about minimizing this,” Cohen warned the CDD supervisors.
IDA executive director Eva Rey promised her staff would present a “nice” balance option to the boards, one that is beneficial to the alligators and protective of the community, the Herald reported.
“It would be very non-prudent to take this liability on,” Country Club West Chairman James Rogoze said, “but everyone has grown to accept the various gators in Lakewood Ranch, and they even have names and reputations.”