Here in the Tampa area, Apollo Beach and the surrounding communities, alligators are not a common reality. Do we have alligator sightings, sometimes, but it really isn’t something that we are concerned with. However, the statistics of alligators around Hillsboro County might just surprise you. It certainly surprised us.
Do we have a lot of alligators in Hillsborough County?
Are There Alligators In Hillsborough County
For those of us who have family or friends outside of Florida, we all experience the frequent questions or comments about alligators. Things like, do you have alligators where you live? OR Watch out for the alligators there. It seems that everyone who has not spent a lot of time in Florida thinks that alligators are as common as birds everywhere you go in Florida. As residents of the Tampa area, we know this is anything but true. However, we wanted to put some data to the test surrounding alligators in Hillsborough County and test some myths with facts.
Hillsborough County Alligator Facts:
First of all, we want to point out that uncovering some of the alligator data for Hillsborough County isn’t easy, nor is it plentiful or very deep. But we were able to discover some statistics that surprised us and we think you may find it interesting as well.
In one study of nuisance alligators reported by Naples Daily News, the number of harvested or relocated gators were listed for the years 2014-2018. Hillsborough County had a whopping 2,375 problem gators that required harvesting or relocation during the four years. To put that into perspective, there were only two other Florida counties with more incidents that Hillsborough County. They were Palm Beach County at 3,020 nuisance alligators and Polk County Florida with 2,864. All of the other counties had fewer cases than Hillsborough County.
In fact, just recently Hillsborough County Sherriffs removed a nine-foot-long alligator from a county sidewalk. Check it out. source
More Sightings And More Attacks
Let’s be very clear about this. Alligator sightings and especially attacks are extremely rare, yet more than 8,000 nuisance gators were harvested in 2017, and about 215,000 were harvested since 1977. It is true that sightings and nuisance gators are on the rise due to population increasing near alligator habitat. But let’s look at the actual numbers.
Harvested or relocated alligators have jumped from 7,296 in 2014 to 8,929 in 2018, which is a 22% increase, according to the FWC data. Furthermore, the number of alligators harvested has been steadily increasing for decades.
You may see caution signs around lakes and parks near water access points or while on walking trails around your neighborhood that say something like “Alligators are common in this area….Stay alert and keep your distance.” But you need to know that Hillsborough County is just one of more than 60 Florida counties where alligators reside. They can be found in our County’s numerous lakes, rivers, and swampy areas. However, alligators are an important part of Florida’s natural history and delicate ecosystems.
While the real-life threat of alligators is real, it is extremely uncommon for alligators to attack humans, however, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Officials say it’s still important to heed the warnings. Be especially cautious during the spring and summer months when alligators become more visible and active during. When temperatures are higher, their metabolism increases and they tend to move greater distances and more frequently, thus facilitating increased human interaction.
Statistics show that an estimated 5 million American gators live in the southeastern United States, and over one million of them live in Florida alone. Even so, the likelihood of being hurt or killed by an alligator is extremely small. In fact, Florida averages only six unprovoked alligator bites per year over the last 10 years that resulted in the need for medical attention. While that average is rising at a rate of about 3% annually, still the likelihood of a Florida resident being seriously injured in a random attack is roughly one in 3.2 million.
So let’s break it down in clear terms. In just about 70 years, there have only been around 400 unprovoked alligator attacks in the entire state of Florida and only 24 of the 400 attacks resulted in death.
Though alligator sightings, nuisance alligators and gator attacks are extremely rare in Hillsborough County, you need to know that by nature, they are afraid of humans. However, with the increase of development and human population around their habitat, they are being desensitized to our presence and will lose the fear of humans if we feed them. Just remain aware, use caution and reduce your contact with them and for the love of everything safe, please do not feed them!
We would love to hear your alligator sighting stories from around Hillsborough County. Leave a comment and tell us about your experience.