Three deadly alligator attacks in Florida in the last week have some worried more may be on the way.
Police are still searching for two alligators that killed two women on Sunday. Friends of a 23-year-old woman found her inside an alligator's mouth on Sunday, and although they managed to pull her out, she was pronounced dead at the scene, according to The Associated Press. The body of another woman was found in a canal early Sunday. A preliminary autopsy report found she had suffered animal bites consistent with an alligator.
On Saturday, trappers captured and killed an alligator that they say was responsible for the death of a 28-year-old woman near Fort Lauderdale. Medical examiners say the alligator attacked the woman while she was on land and dragged her body into the canal.
"We are trying to catch an alligator that has become accustomed to people, and there is a public safety issue here," said Gary Morse of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
In 1970, the federal government placed gators on the endangered species list, but the alligators have multiplied over the last three decades. Today, it is estimated there are between 1 million and 2 million alligators in Florida. The state, however, has only seen 17 confirmed fatal attacks by alligators in the last 57 years.
Connie Gittles, 74, could have been a fourth victim. She felt something bite her while she was gardening, looked down, saw the alligator, and started hitting it with her garden hose.
"I got him right on the nose," Gittles said. "One whack. I don't know where he went, but he was just gone."
The commission reports that alligator nuisance complaints have more than doubled in the last 20 years, to more than 18,000 a year. It says the reason is simple: More and more housing is being built right on top of alligator habitats.