Alligator bites Sarasota County man fishing in retention pond

A 39-year-old man had to be hospitalized after being bitten by an alligator in Sarasota County.

It occurred Sunday morning in a large pond off Precision Drive in North Venice. Officials said the man was wading in the water and fishing when the gator bit his leg.

Officials said the man, who was not publicly identified, was flown to the hospital for treatment, and remained hospitalized Monday.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials are investigating. As of Monday morning, the gator has not been captured.

There have been other recent incidents where people were bitten by alligators. A gator bit a diver swimming in the Myakka River, and then one attacked a woman while she walked her dog in Palm Harbor.

RELATED: Experts advise steering clear of gators during mating season after two recent attacks

In early June, Jeffrey Heim said he was diving for prehistoric shark teeth when he was bitten and felt like he was "blasted by what felt like a propeller on a boat going 50 miles per hour."

After receiving 34 staples and a mild skull fracture, he said he learned his lesson.

"Your life is worth more than any shark tooth – or whatever you enjoy," he said. "But I won’t stop diving, I’m just going to find safer ways to do it. Probably not in that river."

Just a few days later, a woman and her boyfriend, Cameron – who were visiting Palm Harbor from out of the area – were walking their dog near the water when the gator attacked. 

"My son pulled my dog away, and then Jessica apparently fell, and the gator went after her. My son had to pull the gator, pull her leg out of the gator’s jaws. And he hit it on the snout a couple of times," said Diana Petersen.

FWC provided the following safety tips when it comes to alligators:

Generally, alligators less than 4 feet in length are not large enough to be dangerous unless handled. However, if you encounter any alligator that you believe poses a threat to people, pets or property, call the Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWCGATOR (866-392-4286). Please be aware, nuisance alligators are killed, not relocated. 

Be aware of the possibility of alligators when you are in or near fresh or brackish water. Bites may occur when people do not pay close enough attention to their surroundings when working or recreating near water. 

Do not swim outside of posted swimming areas or in waters that might be inhabited by large alligators. 

Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn. Therefore, avoid swimming at night. 

Dogs and cats are similar in size to the natural prey of alligators. Don’t allow pets to swim, exercise or drink in or near waters that may contain alligators.

Dogs often attract an alligator’s interest, so do not swim with your dog. 

Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits killing, harassing or possessing alligators. Handling even small alligators can result in injury.

Learn more about alligators by visiting FWC's website.