Man found dead in gator-filled lake near disc golf course
LARGO, Fla. (AP) — A man died searching for Frisbees in a lake at a disc golf course where people are warned by signs to beware of alligators, police in Florida said Tuesday.
The unidentified man was looking for flying discs in the water and “a gator was involved,” the Largo Police Department said in an email Tuesday.
The man who died was 47 years old, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in an email. The commission said a contracted specialist was working to remove an alligator from the lake “and efforts will be made to determine if it was involved in this situation.”
The park’s website notes that patrons can “discover the sport of disc golf on a course set in the natural beauty of this park.” The course is set along the lake, which has no-swimming signs posted along it.
People who frequent the disc course said it’s not unusual for someone to look for lost discs that can be sold for a few dollars.
”These are people that are down on their luck,” Ken Hostnick, 56, told the Tampa Bay Times. “Sometimes they dive in the lakes, they’ll pull out 40 discs. You may sell them for five bucks a piece, and you may sell them for 10 bucks a piece, depending on the quality.”
Now, police are telling people to avoid the lake while the investigation continues.
Alligators are found almost everywhere in Florida where there is any kind of water. The wildlife commission says there have been no fatal alligator attacks in Florida since 2019, although people and animals have been bitten from from time to time.
Wildlife officials stress that no one should approach a wild alligator or feed them, because the reptiles then associate people with food. This can be more problematic in populated areas such as apartment complexes where people walk dogs and have small children.
Alligators were once considered endangered animals in Florida but have since flourished and can be found almost anywhere in the state. They feed mainly on fish, turtles, snakes, and small mammals. However, they are also known as opportunistic predators that will eat just about anything that comes their way, including carrion and pets. Alligators have no natural enemies in the wild.