Alligator education needed in The Villages

To the Editor:

In light of the recent story about a dog being killed by an alligator in The Villages, I feel it is really necessary to have an education program for residents and visitors. As in this story, many people walk their dogs at water’s edge or let them run off leash, which is very dangerous for the dog. I have also heard many stories about and even witnessed residents feeding alligators in the retention ponds. They do not understand the potential harm they are putting other people in and also putting the alligator’s life in danger.
The first thing I did when I moved to Florida was five years ago was educate myself about alligators and co-habitating with them safely. It is a shame that the alligator will be killed after an incident like this one when it is just acting on instinct and this is how they feed. A gator does not know the difference between a bird on the shore and a dog. They are opportunistic feeders who hunt for small prey at waters edge so this was inevitable unfortunately.
Education is key in this situation and more signage around retention ponds would also be a good thing. If The Villages would be willing to incorporate such a program, I would be happy to do it for free because I have learned a lot about alligators and their habits in the past several years from experts in the field. We can all live together safely but it is up to humans to learn proper behavior around alligators.

Heidi Gaumet
Village of Del Mar

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