Alligator sighting at Ronnie Van Zant Park, public urged to stay away from pond

Zoey Fields

Clay County Government issued a notice Friday to avoid the pond at Ronnie Van Zant Park due to an alligator that was not scared off by park staff.

The park, located at 2760 Sandridge Road, Lake Asbury, is still open to the public. At this time, Clay County Parks and Recreation is advising guests not to approach the pond, but there are no restrictions in place.

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Alligator seen at Ronnie Van Zant Park in Lake Asbury. Park guests are urged to avoid pond area.Clay County Government

“As always, never feed alligators,” Clay County Communications Director Laura Christmas said. “We have also put a sign at the pond alerting guests to the alligator and to be cautious.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission outsources gator removal to contractors through their Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP). The program’s mission is to proactively address alligator threats in developed areas while conserving alligators in areas where they naturally occur.

Generally, an alligator is considered a nuisance when it is at least four feet in length, and it appears to be posing a threat to people, pets or property, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission site.

The alligator in the Van Zant pond approached park staff the week of July 18 and was not deterred by human presence, Christmas said. Guests feeding wildlife is often attributed to these behaviors.

A permit was issued to a qualified nuisance alligator trapper on Friday, July 22, but the alligator has not been caught yet, Florida Fish and Wildlife Public Information Officer Karen Parker said. The removal comes at no cost to Clay County as part of the commission’s mission to keep residents safe.

When a contracted nuisance alligator trapper removes an alligator, it becomes the property of the trapper, Parker said. In most cases, the alligator is processed for its hide and meat, which is the primary source of compensation for the trapper’s services.

Occasionally, a nuisance alligator is sold, alive, to an alligator farm, animal exhibit or zoo. Nuisance alligator trappers receive a $30 stipend for each alligator captured. They work under contract with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and are not state employees.

Click here to visit the Commission’s website for more information on living and dealing with alligators present.

Those concerned about an alligator sighting are encouraged to call the toll-free nuisance alligator hotline at 866-392-4286.

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The alligator seen at Ronnie Van Zant park has not yet been captured. A permit was granted Friday, July 22 to a contracted nuisance trapper.Clay County Government Facebook

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Accredited journalist with experience covering a wide range of stories consisting of breaking news, city and county government, crime and courts, feature stories and local interest. Facebook Bulletin writer, reporter; The Learning Curve. Twitter: @zoeyfields0

Jacksonville, FL
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