News Releases

Alligator bites man; man cited

News Release

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Media contact: Joy Hill, 352-258-3426

An alligator crossing the road in Sanford Monday night got a surprise when a man decided to catch it and grabbed it by its tail. But the alligator's surprise was nothing compared to the man's when the reptile whipped around and bit him on the leg and then ran into some bushes.

As if getting bitten once wasn't enough, the man, who officials said appeared to be intoxicated, reached into the bushes to grab the gator again, and it obliged him by biting him, again.

The gator was trying to get to some water when Dirk Alan Willms, 44, (DOB 08/13/65), of 501 Lemon St., Sanford, decided to catch it.

Eventually, Willms subdued the 45-inch alligator and took it to his house. Someone who saw him with the alligator reported it to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, which then called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

FWC Law Enforcement Officer Naomii Tye responded to the call, issued Willms a ticket for possessing an alligator, a second-degree misdemeanor, and then released the small reptile in nearby Lake Jesup. The maximum penalty for a second-degree misdemeanor is 60 days in jail and $500 fine.

While Tye was filling out the citation, Willms commented that he should have cut the gator's tail off and left it where he caught it, and that he had caught several alligators in the past and had never been bitten.

"If someone sees an alligator that they think is a threat to public safety, they should call the FWC. They should never try to catch it themselves, no matter how small it is," said Tye. "As Mr. Willms found out, not only is it dangerous, it's against the law."

Willms received minor punctures and lacerations, and Tye instructed him to seek medical attention to avoid infection from his cuts.

The moral of this gator tale is if something isn't bothering you, leave it alone.

Catching and possessing alligators without a permit is against the law. Violators should be reported to the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward if their information leads to arrest.



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