The body of a man retrieving a flying saucer from a lake in a Florida park that served as a home for alligators was found tore off its arm on Tuesday, authorities said. This was the state’s first deadly crocodile attack since 2019.
A spokesman for the Largo Police Department said the accident occurred in a 53-acre lake at John S Taylor Park in Largo, Florida. She added that police believed “the crocodile was involved” in the death.
A spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission said the victim was a 47-year-old man.
The man was a “passerby” making a living selling a flying saucer to people playing disc golf on a course running parallel to the lake, and “died as a result of a crocodile attack,” Paul Cozy, director of Parks and Conservation Resources in Pinellas County, said in a phone interview.
“It looks like he went before the park opened – unfortunately not a good time to be on any lake, but especially during alligator mating season,” Mr. Cozy said, calling the decision “a mistake that seems to cost him his life.”
Mr. Cozy said someone who was in the park around 8 a.m. saw the body on the lakeshore with one arm cut off.
John S Taylor Park Features Golf course along the lake. Mr. Cozy said park rangers met the man trying to enter the lake in April, and told him another attempt would prevent him from the park.
Mr. Cozy said local golfers are avoiding the cheap supermarket and prefer specialized discs designed to perform certain types of pitches, which makes their equipment valuable. He said the man on Tuesday was not the first person to be attacked by a crocodile while trying to retrieve the discs for money, adding that two years ago a man was bitten in the face by a crocodile in the same lake, but he survived.
Cozy said the lake goes down six to eight feet, so you have to “kick at the bottom” to find discs.
Mr. Cozy said one of the holes on the golf course is within 25 to 50 feet of water. “Certainly, it would be wise for Disc Golf Group to consider moving the hole,” he added.
He described the lake as being connected to other nearby bodies of water, making it “almost like a highway for crocodiles to move around the county.” Mr. Cozy said there are signs warning people not to enter, and even park rangers cannot wade into the lake.
Mr. Cozy said that during the mating season, which occurs in May or June, the crocodiles become more aggressive and territorial. Crocodiles are most active between dusk and dawn, According to the Wildlife Commissionwhich said in a press release that a crocodile hunter was dispatched to “remove a nearby crocodile” after the body was found.
Later on Tuesday, wildlife officials caught a crocodile near the site of the attack and euthanized it, they said. WFLA-TV, an NBC affiliate in Tampa. An autopsy was to be performed to determine if the crocodile was responsible for the man’s death.
Mr. Cozy said it was more common for crocodiles to attack pets than people. According to data from the Wildlife Commission, over the past ten years, there have been an annual average of eight “major” incidents of alligators biting people in Florida, resulting in four deaths.
The remains of a 47-year-old woman were walking with her dogs Discover Inside the 2018 crocodile and crocodile to kidnap A two-year-old at a Disney resort in 2016.
A population of about 1.3 million crocodiles can be found in “virtually all fresh and brackish water bodies” in the state, Wildlife Commission says. The group says crocodiles are “naturally afraid of humans” but feeding the crocodile, which is illegal, causes people to associate with food dangerously.