Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has captured and removed at least 226 nuisance alligators from Walt Disney World property since a toddler was killed by an alligator at a Disney resort nearly five years ago, state records show.
Lane Thomas Graves was a 2-year-old child when an alligator attacked him while he was playing on the beach at Walt Disney Worlds Grand Floridian resort. A sculpture of a lighthouse was installed near the Grand Floridian Resort beach in 2017 to spread awareness of the Lane Thomas Foundation, a nonprofit organization established by Graves’ parents to support families of children in need of organ transplants.
“In keeping with our strong commitment to safety, we continue to reinforce procedures related to reporting sightings and interactions with wildlife, and work closely with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to remove or relocate certain wildlife from our property in accordance with state regulations,” a Walt Disney World spokesperson said.
In 2016, 83 alligators were removed from the resort. 2017, 57 alligators were captured.
About 33 alligators were harvested in 2018 and 2019, state records show.
In 2020, another 46 alligators were plucked from Disney World waterways. Nearly half of those removals occurred between late March and early July while the resort’s hotels and theme parks were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To address complaints about potentially dangerous alligators, FWC administers the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program.
If an alligator at least 4 feet in length is believed to pose a threat to people, pets, or property, the agency issues a permit to a state-contracted alligator trapper. Nearly 7,700 alligators were captured statewide under the program in 2019. Although some of those reptiles are sold alive to alligator farms, animal exhibits, or zoos, most nuisance alligators are euthanized. FWC does not relocate nuisance alligators because the reptiles often try to return to their capture site, and remote locations generally have healthy alligator populations, according to the agency.
According to FWC, the removal of nuisance alligators does not have a significant impact on Florida’s population of about 1.3 million alligators.
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