TEQUESTA, FL (WFLX) - How close would you get to a nine foot, six inch gator? If you are Troy Nelson, you get very close. "You have to get on top of him to secure him," said Nelson, a licensed alligator trapper based in Palm Beach County.
Nelson pulled the nearly 10 foot gator out of the Loxahatchee River in Tequesta. "By catching him, I was in the right spot at the right time," he said of his recent capture.
Even with this big gator out of the water, the warning for people and pets remains. "I'm concerned about my children and my dog and it was a very large alligator," said waterfront resident Julie Walsh.
Walsh spotted the gator first and snapped several photos of the animal before it was caught. A glimpse of the 200-plus pound alligator right at the end of her dock was all she needed to see. "We water ski here, we tube, we swim. I never ever thought we'd see an alligator that large," she said.
Walsh called the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, which sent Nelson out to the Walsh's neighborhood. With his ropes and his strong fishing rod, Nelson reeled the gator up over the seawall onto dry land. "He was a healthy gator," said Nelson. "He was really wide."
With recent discharges from Lake Okeechobee, Nelson says the alligator may have followed the fresh water flow right into the brackish water of the Loxahatchee River. "No question he'll take any dog down," Nelson added. "And if you're swimming, and he recognizes you as possible prey, he'll take a human down, as well."
The gator is still alive, Nelson said, at a farm close to Lake Okeechobee.