Sarasota, Tampa, Lakeland, high on FWC list for nuisance gator removals

(Courtesy: HSCO)

BRANDON, Fla. (WFLA) – Spotting an alligator here in Florida isn’t exactly shocking. They’re pretty much everywhere. But, some new stats show they may be more common in the Tampa Bay area than you might think.

Areas like Sarasota, Tampa, Lakeland and Bradenton are all in the top eight for nuisance gator removals in Florida.

News Channel 8 shows you gator sightings on an almost weekly basis. Some in backyards, trying to find an opening in a fence, or one found in a Pasco parking lot, who was gently pulled through a furniture store to a waterway out back.

Who can forget the Jurassic-size gator that was captured on camera at Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland?

On Monday, we watched alligator trapper Robb Upthegrove in action along a retention area at Brandon Town Center.

“When he takes the hook, he doesn’t know what’s going on. Then you get there to extract him and he says ‘uh-oh!'” Upthegrove said.

He had more than just grappling hooks and fishing poles in tow on Monday. He also had three large gators captured earlier in the day, inside the trailer behind his truck.

Upthegrove wasn’t at all surprised to see the list from the FWC on nuisance gator removals.

Sarasota is number two and Tampa’s right behind. Upthegrove believes all the water makes the Tampa Bay Area attractive to gators.

“All the rivers are fed by fingerlings of little creeks, and those rivers and creeks are their interstates,” he said.

Upthegrove said the bottom line is they were here before we were.

“They’re part of our heritage in Florida and we just have to be respectful to them.”

A total of 8,050 gators were removed by FWC approved trappers in 2016. As busy as 2017 has been so far, we’ll have to see if the numbers go up.

Follow Jenn Holloway on Facebook

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