Two men accused of harassing nesting alligator in Charlotte County

Reporter: Dannielle Garcia
Published: Updated:
Authorities are searching for two men accused of harassing an alligator. (CREDIT: Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center)

Authorities are searching for two men who hopped a fence and tormented an alligator protecting her nest at the Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center.

One of the men was captured on video hitting a gator with what appeared to be palm fronds. Another man stood by and watched.

Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center CEO Michael Bednar said this is one of the things you should not do when you visit the center.

“On March 5, we captured, on one of our trail cams, two individuals who came up to a freshwater pond where there’s a mama gator and her babies,” Bednar said. “One of them can be seen stepping over into the path into the habitat space and trying to whack the mama gator with a branch which is a very bad idea.”

It’s not just a bad idea but also illegal.

So now, Florida Fish and Conservation Commission authorities are searching for the men.

There are signs near where the incident happened that warned against that behavior.

3-year-old Joshua Sperry and 4-year-old Jacob Sperry obeyed the signs when they visited the center on Wednesday.

“No, because they open their mouth really wide and then they grab them with their teeth,” said the Sparry boys.

Bednar says it’s pretty incredible the gator didn’t attack the men.

“Those are her babies all she wants to do is protect them and if she’s willing to do that with another 9-foot alligator she won’t think twice about biting or defending her space from any animal,” Bednar said.

In the 35 years the preserve has been open, there has never been an alligator attack and Bednar wants to keep it that way.

The FWC said attempting to injure an alligator is a third-degree felony, punishable by up five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

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