How rare is this? What to do if you see one

A woman was killed by an alligator in South Carolina on Monday, officials confirmed, in what has been an unusual year for fish attacks.

It was the fourth fatality from a fish attack this year after a man was killed in Florida on May 31 while searching for Frisbees, another man was killed near a retention pond in South Carolina on June 24, and Florida An 80-year-old woman was also killed. A golf course.

They are not the only people who have lived with the creatures. On July 20, a 43-year-old man was attacked by an alligator and treated for a “severe arm injury,” and on August 4, a 34-year-old man was bitten in the face while swimming in a Florida lake. .

Florida is known as the home of fish, and residents have had countless run-ins with the reptiles near their homes, golf courses or roads.

Still, attacks, especially fatal ones, are rare.

“With how many people there are and how many alligators there are, it’s really surprising that it doesn’t happen more often,” Frank Mazzotti, a professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Florida and a member of “Croc Docs,” told USA Today. .

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An alligator swims in the Florida Everglades on May 04, 2022 in Miami, Florida. Florida is home to the largest fish population in the country with over a million inhabitants.

Where are alligators in America?

According to the National Wildlife Federation, alligators are found throughout the Southeast and wetlands, with their range extending west to East Texas and east to coastal North Carolina.

These creatures are most abundant in Louisiana and Florida, with populations of over one million fish in each state.

“Anywhere there’s standing water, an alligator can be found,” the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a statement to USA Today.

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How common are alligator attacks?

Alligator attacks are rare, even in Louisiana and Florida.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says licensed hunters remove more than 1,000 nuisance fish — those considered “threats to pets, livestock or humans” — a year, and reports of attacks in the state. Usually there are only encounters.

The Florida Conservation Commission said in November 2021 there were 442 unprovoked alligator bites in Florida from 1948 to 2021, an average of six years. Of those bites, 26 were fatal, meaning the state had a fatal injury about every three years.

Nationally, between 1948 and August 2004, 376 injuries and 15 deaths were reported as a result of alligator encounters in the United States, which means that one death was reported every three to four years. According to the study in the peer-reviewed Journal of Wilderness and Environmental Medicine. However, the study at the time cited the need for a “uniform reporting system among states” to obtain more complete information on alligator encounters.

The Florida Commission says the odds of a non-Florida resident being seriously injured in an unprovoked alligator attack are one in 3.1 million. For reference, you have a better chance of being attacked by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. You’re more likely to drown than to be attacked by an alligator, Mazzotti said.

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What should I do if I am near an alligator?

Rarely, attacks occur.

Alligators typically breed and search for new habitats in the spring and summer, meaning fishing activity may increase.

The good news for humans: Alligators have an innate fear of humans and generally retreat when approached, says Texas Parks and Wildlife. Mazzoti added that alligators “do not perceive humans as a threat or as food.”

However, fish eaters may be more inclined to approach humans if one is fed, which is why it is illegal to do so in many states. Crocodiles only attack when threatened or surrounded, but if a human is in the water with the fish, it can lure them in.

“Splashing in the water will get the alligator interested, and if it thinks there’s something small and vulnerable in the water at that point, it might attack it,” Mazzotti said. “Every time you appear near water, you are taking some risk… Don’t tempt him.”

What to do if a crocodile attacks?

Texas Parks and Wildlife says a safe distance from alligators is at least 30 feet, and while it’s extremely rare for them to chase humans, they can run up to 35 miles per hour for short periods of time. .

If an alligator is chasing you, run in a straight line, say experts at the University of Florida. If an alligator attacks, experts say to punch it in the eyes and around the head. You can induce the gator’s gag reflex by jamming objects into the back of its mouth, and when it tries to fit the prey in its mouth, that’s your chance to escape.

“If you should be attacked, fight like your life depends on it because it happens,” Mazzotti said.

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.

This article originally appeared on USA Today: Florida alligator attack: How rare are attacks? What to do around one

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