While out doing his morning exercise, a resident from Miami Dade in Florida saw something that made him stop in his tracks.
Just outside the Homestead Sports Complex was an enormous, 11-foot alligator which trappers described as being “like something out of Jurassic Park.”
“It’s the largest alligator that has been captured in Miami Dade county in quite a few years,” a spokesperson for Pesky Critters, a local wildlife control service, told Newsweek. “[The resident] was very startled and called the police.”
Pesky Critters was also called to the scene. “After quite the battle of the gator repeatedly lunging at owner Todd Hardwick, they successfully captured the gator with additional assistance of local police to secure the area while they wrangled this gator,” Pesky Critters said.
Footage of the incident, shared by Pesky Critters, shows the impressive reptile gnashing its jaws and lashing its tail against Hardwick and his team. “That was a close one!” they said.
Florida is home to over 1.3 million alligators, according to the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The reptiles are mostly found in swamps, marshes, rivers and wetlands, but at this time of year—that is, during alligator mating season—they often come into residential areas looking for food and a mate.
“Alligators are extremely active right now and residents need to be aware and alert,” Pesky Critters said.
The average size for an American alligator, as estimated by the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, is 8.2 feet for the females and 11.2 feet for the males. However, any gator over 4 feet can pose a threat to people, pets and property.
Pesky Critters said that the Homestead Sports Complex, where the 11-foot gator was captured, is often used to host children’s soccer games, and is right near a school and local neighborhoods. “It was definitely a very necessary capture and ‘nuisance’ gator in the area,” they said.
To stay safe around these apex predators, Hardwick gave some simple words of advice: “I always tell everybody that if you see an alligator, you need to give him a wide berth—you know, stay 25 feet away from him—and you need to call the authorities and get the alligator team out there before something happens.”
He continued: “If you have a dog, keep them on a leash and stay 20 feet from the edge of the water so that the gator doesn’t try and get him. Avoid areas with heavy vegetation around water because that’s where the alligator would be hiding.
“And above all, don’t feed the alligators. Once you start feeding them, you condition them to come up to people, and that’s when they become dangerous.”