Pine Island resident aids in capture of nuisance alligator
During an afternoon bike ride, Bokeelia residents Alan and Susan Tomanek took a break, resting at the Charlotte Shores Homeowners Marina on Pine Island. During their stay, Susan spotted a large alligator cruising the water near the shoreline.
“We believed that this was the same nuisance alligator that is said to have taken more than one pet in the area of the neighborhood canals, and we thought we had better do something about it,” said Alan. “We didn’t have the number of a trapper of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission with us, so I pedaled back to our home to get the information while Susan kept an eye on the beast.”
When Tomanek returned with the information, Susan called FWC to obtain the five- digit number needed to secure the services of a registered trapper to have the animal legally removed and relocated in a safer environment.
“I called Tracy Hanson, the nuisance alligator trapper in our area,” said Tomanek. “Tracy said he could be here in 40 minutes and I told him I would wait and keep an eye on the gator until he arrived.”
As promised, Hanson arrived 40 minutes later, unloading his truck, taking out two PVC pipe rope nooses and a fishing rod equipped with a large weighted treble hook tied to 200 pound test fishing line.
“We watched as Tracy stood about 30 feet away from the seawall so as not to spook the beast and saw him execute a perfect cast directly over the alligator’s back and then slowly reel in the line and then in one big tug of the fishing rod, he snagged the large gator reeling him closer to the seawall.”
According to Alan, he then offered to bring the two rope nooses to the alligator trapper to which the Hanson replied “yes and hurry.” The fishing rod was then passed off to Alan who continued to reel the gator closer to the seawall for Hanson to attempt to lasso the animal.
“Just as Tracy lassoed the gator, the animal began several death rolls and rolled up the fishing line around its own snout which made it harder to control him,” Tomanek said. “I then pulled hard, straight up to unroll the line so the trapper could successfully lasso the gator.”
Tomanek explained that the first lasso went a little low, going around the gator’s belly. Both he and the trapper agreed that a second one around the gator’s neck would be needed to maintain safe control of the dangerous animal.
“When we were successful at getting the second noose around the gator’s neck, Tracy said to me ‘on the count of three, we’ll lift both rope lassos to get the alligator over the seawall.’ At that point we pulled the gator over the seawall and onto land.”
“We had the beast under control, but he was snapping his powerful jaws as then Tracy dragged the gator across the grass and tied it to a pine tree,” said Tomanek. “Tracy then taped the gator’s snout shut so we would no longer be in danger. We then lifted the alligator into the truck to be taken away.”
According to Tomanek, the alligator measured 6 feet 8 inches in length.
After the successful removal of the alligator on April 25, it was relocated to a local gator farm.
According to Hanson, typically he responds to nuisance alligators calls on Pine Island a couple of times a month and even while the gator population has increased in recent years, he attests the low number of calls to people learning to better co-exist with wildlife.
Tomanek added his remarks on staying safe around large alligators.
“I think it should be noted that this is mating season for the alligators and they may be more aggressive and protective of their nesting areas. Also, never feed these reptiles as it can end with tragic results,” Tomanek said.
To report a nuisance alligator, call the Alligator Hotline at 1-866-FWC-GATOR to obtain a five-digit number to allow a local, licensed trapper to aid in the safe and professional removal of the animal.