|Published:||Dec 12, 2013 2:05 PM EST|
|Updated:||Dec 12, 2013 6:30 PM EST|
OCHOPEE, Fla. - In the last decade the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says it has increased its public awareness efforts and that, in part, has led to a five-year stretch without a fatal alligator attack.
The last alligator attack fatality was Justo Padron in 2007. The suspected car burglar was fleeing from police and hid in a pond. He was attacked and killed by an alligator.
Assuming no one is killed in the next couple weeks, a new record will be set on New Year's day.
Here in Southwest Florida we have had some close calls over the last few years.
In August 2011, 90-year-old Margaret Webb was attacked by an eight-foot alligator. It just so happened that professional gator-wrangler Dwain Daniels was driving by and saved Webb's life. Webb was his former sunday school teacher.
In july of 2012, Moore Haven teenager Fred Langdale was swimming in the river when he was attacked by an alligator. Fred lost his right hand.
Despite these attacks, no one has died; but since 1948 there have been 22 fatal attacks in the state as well as more than 200 major bites.
While there is a lot of luck involved in the potential record, state officials have taken steps to increase safety. Florida FWC says the increases in hunting quotas and nuisance trappers have played a role in keeping the fatalities at bay.