[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Gators escape from Citrus Co. farm


Gators escape from Citrus Co. farm

Tuesday, 21 Jun 2011, 5:53 PM EDT

Peter Linton-Smith
FOX 13 News Pasco County reporter

HERNANDO - The calls about alligators started coming late last week to Florida's nuisance alligator hot line, and continued over the weekend.

Then, an officer from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission noticed the calls came from a neighborhood that was home to an alligator farm. He paid a visit and discovered 17 alligators at a farm owned by Albert Spiegel escaped.

Eight of the reptiles were captured, one was killed by a car but eight others are still on the loose.

"It has everybody nervous and worried," said John Littnan.

One of the alligators was trapped in Littnan's yard. Officers discovered the alligators dug under a fence and simply wandered away. Littnan had long complained about the farm and the conditions in which the alligators were being kept.

"The reason they escaped is that they were not being fed, and they were trying to survive," Littnan said.

Indeed the state cited Spiegel for maintaining wildlife in an unsafe/unsanitary condition, a misdemeanor that carries fines of up to $500 dollars and 60 days in jail.

No one at Spiegel's farm answered when FOX 13 visited Tuesday afternoon. A spokeswoman for FWC insisted there is no reason for alarm.

"This is Florida, alligators are everywhere," explained the FWC's Karen Parker. "There could be up to 1.5 million alligators in the state. The public should not be unnecessarily alarmed about eight."

That's easier said than done for people living in Fairview Estates.

"It's quite scary," Theresa Alexander explained. "We have several kids and we have a pool and we enjoy our pool quite often so I'm hoping to find these alligators real fast."

Experts suggest the alligators are simply looking for the nearest pond or lake. In the meantime, Spiegel voluntarily surrendered his alligator farm license and gave his one remaining gator away

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