While it might seem like an obvious thing not to mock alligators and then swim in their presence, a new Texas resident did just that. It was a fatal mistake, since a 400-pound, 11-foot alligator bit off his left arm and then dragged him underwater. An autopsy later showed that Tommie Woodward died of drowning.
The owners of Burkhart’s Marina in Orange had noticed the large alligator and posted signs for people to stay out of the water for their safety. Woodward ignored his friends’ desperate pleas and jumped into the water to his death.
Vigilantes set a trap for the gator and then shot it in the head before leaving it at the marina. Justice of the Peace Rodney Price told 12News that the gator contained some of Woodward’s body parts.
While killing an alligator in Texas is a misdemeanor with a fine of $500, Texas Parks and Wildlife decided to only issue a warning to the man that killed it given the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the death of Tommie Woodward.
Orange County Game Warden Phillip Ledoux urged people not to feed the alligators, because that can encourage them to come closer. While some local residents admitted to feeding them treats, others realize the danger of doing so and do not feed them. Feeding an alligator is also a misdemeanor and carries a $500 fine.
Ledoux said that restaurants near bodies of water would be well advised to implement a rule that bans feeding the animals. He pointed out that in addition to being illegal, it would help keep customers safe.
Authorities told the New York Daily News that recent heavy rain may have displaced the gators bringing them in closer contact with humans. Also, they could be more territorial than usual, because they are currently in breeding season.