BOKEELIA, Fla. (FOX 13) — A southwest Florida man took it upon himself to help what appeared to be a distressed alligator in his backyard.
Michael Stauffer, who lives in Bokeelia, told FOX 13 he used a broom and wet blanket to stop the gator from getting away after he noticed a plastic ring wrapped firmly around its belly. Bokeelia is located on Pine Island in Lee County.
With the help of a friend, Stauffer tosses the blanket over the gator to hinder its vision and used the broom to brace himself before trapping it under him. He then taped the gator’s mouth and removed the plastic. The incident occurred on Thanksgiving Day, but decided Saturday to share his experience.
Stauffer placed the gator in the back of his truck and transported it his in-laws’ home since Thanksgiving dinner was being held there. He called Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and an officer was dispatched to the home.
Stauffer said the officer told him transporting the gator is illegal, but thanked him for saving it.
“He did make it very clear that transporting it and being stopped for anything could have ended very, very badly,” Stauffer said.
Stauffer said he would do it again if an animal or person was in danger, but he wouldn’t transport it.
According to the FWC website, only a licensed nuisance alligator trapper can capture or remove an alligator. Anyone with alligator concerns are asked to call the Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-392-4286. For more information on the program, head to FWC’s website.
FWC released the following statement:
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) law enforcement responded to and investigated this incident. Mr. Stauffer was educated on the dangers and laws regarding the capture of alligators in the wild.
Alligators in the wild cannot be taken or handled without a permit. The FWC places highest priority on public safety and encourages people with concerns to call FWC’s toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).