Why alligator attacks are spiking in Florida

By FoxNews.com

There has been a recent spate of alligator attacks in southwest Florida — and the weather is partially to blame.

On July 9, a 71-year-old woman was airlifted to hospital after she was attacked by a 10-foot alligator at the Shadow Wood Preserve gated community in Fort Myers. The attack came just days after another gator nearly bit the arm off a golf ball diver in a Charlotte County golf course lake.

Last week, an alligator reportedly bit a 10-year-old boy vacationing in Arcadia.

File photo – An alligator suns itself along the Anhinga Trail at Everglades National Park, Florida. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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A number of factors are contributing to the spike in attacks. “Alligators are more active when temperatures rise,” explained a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in an email to Fox News. “That fact, combined with this being a popular time of year for people to recreate near the water, creates the potential for human-alligator interactions.”

Officials confirm that there have been 16 bite incidents so far this year in Florida, equaling the statewide record for attacks in a year, which was set in 2001.

An American Alligator is shown standing in an alert post in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Palm Beach County, Florida in this U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo released on August 14, 2014. Wildlife officials on Friday will open a Florida nature preserve for the first time to a handful of alligator hunters who waited more than a decade to stalk the large reptiles in the Everglades.  REUTERS/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Handout  (UNITED STATES - Tags: ANIMALS ENVIRONMENT SPORT) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - RTR42HGE

File photo – An American Alligator is shown standing in an alert post in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Palm Beach County, Florida in this U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo (REUTERS/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Handout)

However, with about 1.3 million alligators in the state, officials say that attacks resulting in serious injury are a relatively rare occurrence. “From 1948 to 2016, 388 unprovoked bite incidents have occurred in Florida,” explained the spokeswoman. Some 24 of those attacks were fatal.

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“FWC places the highest priority on public safety and administers a Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP) to address complaints concerning specific alligators believed to pose a threat to people, pets or property,” the spokeswoman added.

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