Fatal alligator attack in public park, close calls in residential communities

Woman reports that her Lake Nona HOA won’t allow trappers to remove gator sighted a few feet from 6-year-old boy

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

Shizuka Matsuki, of Plantation, Florida, was walking her two dogs at Silver Lakes Rotary Nature Park in Davie, Florida a few days ago, when a 12-foot long alligator emerged from a lake and attacked the woman. Rescue and recovery authorities later recovered Matsuki’s body, and captured the alligator that severed one of her arms in the fatal attack.

Two days before the attack, according to a report in the South Florida Sentinel, Isla del Sol Homeowners Association in Plantation, where Matsuki and her husband lived, warned residents that alligators were active in the neighborhood.

Neighbors say Matsuki usually walked her dogs in her Isla del Sol community. But after the HOA warned residents of alligator activity in the subdivision, the homeowner apparently decided to drive about 7 miles south to Silver Lakes, to walk her dogs in the Rotary Nature Park.

Unfortunately, an aggressive alligator attacked Matsuki and one of her dogs. The dogs survived, Matsuki did not.

A Google Maps image of Silver Lakes reveals two large bodies of water just east of Florida’s Turnpike. Both ponds are surrounded by residential neighborhoods, with an undeveloped wetland preserve to the north. The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino sits on the opposite side of the highway.

Silver Lakes Rotary nature Park
Silver Lakes Rotary nature Park, Davie, FL (Google Maps screen capture, June 10, 2018)

Two days before alligator killed Florida woman, her community was urged to be on guard

Marc Freeman and Wayne K. Roustan
South Florida Sun Sentinel

Jun 10, 2018 12:06 AM

Alligator attack victim Shizuka Matsuki lived in a waterfront community where a warning about a trespassing gator went out to homeowners two days before she was killed while walking her dogs in a Davie park.

It’s unclear whether the 47-year-old woman, whose body was recovered Friday night, ever got the email alert from the Isla del Sol Homeowners Association in Plantation that urged residents to “exercise caution with our families and pets, mindful that alligators, snakes, and other wildlife may be in the area.”

The notice said the 6-foot gator, which was spotted by someone’s front door, was trapped, but to still be careful.

What’s clear is that Matsuki went to Silver Lakes Rotary Nature Park and was attacked by the lake there, according to Davie police and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Details about the tragedy were not yet known, and apparently no one witnessed the attack.

Read more:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-florida-woman-killed-alligator-20180609-story.html

See also:

The body of a woman attacked by a 12-foot alligator while walking her dogs has been found (The Washington Post)

Meanwhile, in Lake Nona, a mixed use planned community in Orlando, Nicole Mojica was in the back yard of her home taking a video of her 6-year-old son playing. She was shocked to discover a 4-foot alligator just a few feet away from the small boy. Fortunately, upon discovery, the gator quickly slipped into the pond, directly behind Mojica’s home.

The incident was documented on two videos posted to Facebook.

Mojica contacted her HOA, expecting the manager to contact the Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) in order to remove the alligator. Instead, the homeowner says she was told that it’s alligator mating season, and nothing is to be done about it.

Alligator trappers from FWC will not enter private property without permission from the HOA.

Lake Nona woman says HOA is stopping her from having alligator removed from backyard

By: Sarahbeth Ackerman

Updated: Jun 8, 2018 – 7:22 PM

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Lake Nona woman who saw an alligator just feet from her 6-year-old found out there’s nothing she can do to have it removed.

Mating season and her homeowners association stopped her from doing anything about the animal.

Nicole Mojica’s video of the gator went viral last week. She was recording her son playing with an inflatable gator on a Slip n’ Slide, and just as she was finished filming, she noticed a 4-foot gator was in the background of the shot the entire time.

Mojica said she contacted her HOA, and someone came out to her backyard and looked around.

According to Mojica, her HOA told her nothing can be done since it’s mating season and the play equipment in her yard likely attracted the gator.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officials said if an alligator is larger than 4 feet in length and poses a threat to people, pets or property, it can be removed.

All you would have to do is contact the nuisance alligator hotline, but in Mojica’s case, since she has an HOA, trappers cannot remove it without the HOA’s approval.

Read more (Video):

https://www.wftv.com/www.wftv.com/news/local/lake-nona-woman-says-hoa-is-stopping-her-from-having-alligator-removed-from-backyard/765703871

See also:

Mom’s video shows an alligator just feet away from a child playing in his back yard.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article212698289.html#storylink=cpy

See the Google Map image of Lake Nona below. Note the number of homes that sit practically on top of water, providing the perfect habitat for alligators.

Lake Nona Orlando Florida
Lake Nona, Orlando, Florida (Google Maps screen capture, June 10, 2018)

But alligators aren’t limited to Florida.

Last week, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, an alligator was spotted on beach in Garden City, within a few yards of Horizon East Condominium.

‘We were only steps away from stepping on it’: Gator spotted on Garden City beach

BY MEGAN TOMASIC

June 04, 2018 12:22 PM

Updated June 04, 2018 03:41 PM

Mandy Schraider Daly was walking along a Garden City Beach with her boyfriend last week when the couple stumbled across an unexpected sight: an alligator sitting in the sand.

“We were looking down at shells and luckily my boyfriend saw it as we were only steps away from stepping on it,” Daly said.

The gator was spotted in front of the Horizon East Condominium building around 8 p.m. Thursday.

Read more here: http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/news/local/article212482719.html#storylink=cpy

And in Mandeville, Louisiana, in Bayou country near Lake Pontchartrain, a homeowner was surprised to find a rather large alligator in his backyard swimming pool.

Watch alligator swimming in backyard pool in Mandeville

Posted Jun 8 (2018)
By Bob Warren

Swimming pools in south Louisiana? Pretty common. Alligators in south Louisiana? Pretty common.

Alligators in swimming pools? Not that common. Not even in south Louisiana.

But there it was one recent morning, a 6-foot-plus-long gator peacefully swimming in a backyard pool in Mandeville’s Sanctuary community.

Earl Hardouin, owner and president of Paradise Pools and Spas Inc. posted video of the alligator on the company’s Facebook page. The video had come to him via a customer.

Read more (video):

https://www.nola.com/northshore/index.ssf/2018/06/alligator_swimming_in_backyard.html

Notice a pattern? Each example of alligator encounters occurred in a densely populated area, and close to a wetland or nature preserve.

For several decades, urban planners and real estate brokers have been selling housing consumers on the virtues and benefits of dense communities where people can live, work, and play amid environmentally sensitive wetlands and nature preserves.

In each case, local governments have approved clustered residential and commercial construction practically on top of wildlife habitats.

But recent close calls and one tragic encounter reminds us that perhaps  humans have encroached a bit too far into alligator territory.

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