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The woman was walking her dog on Monday afternoon beside a canal in Spanish Lakes Fairway near Fort Pierce when the nearly 11-foot (3.3-meters) gator attacked the dog, St. Lucie Sheriff Ken Mascara said.
A trapper from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission later tracked down the gator and deputies helped get it on a truck. It was taken from the scene.
“FWC is in charge of the investigation, however we assisted with a helicopter and manpower,” Mascara said.
The woman’s name has not been released. Officials said the dog survived the attack, but its condition wasn’t immediately known.
Fatal alligator attacks are rare, but they do happen. In 2016, 2-year-old Lane Graves was killed by alligator as he was vacationing with his family from Nebraska at Walt Disney World. Since then hundreds of gators have been relocated from the area.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, between 1948 and 2021 there have been 442 unprovoked alligator bites on humans, including 26 fatalities. The chances of a person in Florida being injured in an unprovoked alligator attack is about one in 3.1 million, according to the commission.
Once on the endangered species list, the alligator has recovered to the point that wildlife officials estimate the Florida population at more than 1.3 million animals.
Officials warn people to be careful around bodies of water, as well as against feeding alligators.
“Although alligators can move quickly on land, they are not well adapted for capturing prey out of the water,” the agency’s website said. “However, they can lunge at prey within a few feet of the shoreline.”
Fort Pierce is about 70 miles (112 kilometers) north of West Palm Beach.
By The Associated Press