A North Florida man was bitten by an alligator this week while snorkeling in a spring that was considered safe for swimming.
According to a news release issued by the US Forest Service (USFS), the man, whose name has not been released to the public at the time of publication, was in the Alexander Springs Recreation Area of the Ocala National Forest on Monday, July 17.
The incident occurred around 12:30 a.m. and the man suffered “puncture wounds and lacerations,” the news release said.
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He was reportedly assisted by workers from Adventure Ocala, an authorized outdoor recreation concession operating in Alexander Springs.
The USFS says crews “responded quickly and appropriately,” clearing visitors from the swimming area and closing it for public safety.
According to the USFS, the man drove himself to seek medical care.
Fox News Digital has reached out to the US Forest Service for comment.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) was called to the scene and removed what the man described as a 7.5-foot alligator Monday afternoon.
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An FWC spokesperson told Fox News Digital that the captured alligator was considered a “noisance alligator,” meaning the animal poses a threat to people, pets or property.
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The reptile was removed by a contracted trapper in accordance with the statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP). Nuisance alligator trappers are not state employees.
“In most cases, alligators are processed for their skin and meat, which is the primary source of compensation for their services,” the FWC wrote in an email. “Occasionally, a distressed crocodile is sold alive but to fish farms, animal exhibits or zoos.”
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FOX 35 Orlando reported that the animal had to be sent to the handler by the removalist.
An investigation is underway, and the Alexander Springs swimming area will remain closed until further notice, but the USFS expects the swimming area to “reopen in the near future,” according to its news release.
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“The USFS will reopen the Alexander Springs swimming area after FWC completes its investigation of the area and recommends next steps for public safety,” the agency wrote in a statement.
Temporary closures are necessary after “aggressive wildlife encounters,” the agency said.
Last week, the Alexander Springs swimming area was briefly closed for the encounter and removal of a different alligator, which marked a first for the Ocala National Forest this year, according to the USFS.
In May, a Florida man had to have his right arm amputated after being bitten by a 10-foot alligator outside a bar in Port Charlotte, a census-designated place in southwest Florida, Fox News Digital previously reported.
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Both USFS and FWC monitor outdoor conditions and remove alligators as needed, according to a USFS news release.
July is considered “crocodile nesting season in Florida,” meaning female alligators protect their eggs and young, the federal agency said.
“All reptiles are more active and need more food during this warm season,” the USFS wrote in a statement. “Please use caution, in and around water (including at the beach). Follow all posted and recommended safety guidance.”
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The USFS added that alligators can easily blend in with their environment and are not easily detected in the water.
According to the USFS, seeking medical attention after an alligator bite is highly recommended because the bacteria in the reptile’s mouth can pose serious health risks.
According to the FWC, about 1.3 million fishers live in Florida’s 67 counties.
“Every body of water has the potential to harbor alligators,” the FWC wrote to Fox News Digital. “Floridians and visitors should take precautions while in or near water to minimize the potential for conflicts with fish.”
“The FWC encourages people not to swim in the early morning or late at night when alligators are most active. If you see an alligator, keep a safe distance and do not feed it,” the statement added.
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Potentially dangerous alligators should be reported to the statewide Nuisance Alligator Program. The toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline is 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).