Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Man Who Lost Hand in Alligator Attack Charged with Feeding Gator

A Florida man who lost his left hand in an alligator attack has been charged with illegally feeding the gator. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Wallace Weatherholt, a 63-year-old airboat captain, was giving an Indiana family a tour of the Everglades when he was attacked. Weatherholt allegedly tried to get a nine-foot gator to surface by feeding it and patting the water. The tactic worked too well, and Weatherholt lost his hand.

Weatherholt now faces second degree misdemeanor charges for the unlawful feeding of the alligator. If he is convicted, the airboat captain could go to jail for 60 days and pay a $500 fine, reports the Naples Daily News. As if losing his hand was not punishment enough.

The seemingly innocent act of feeding an alligator is considered a crime in Florida. And you only have to look as far as the alligator attack on Weatherholt to see why the law is in place.

Alligators are a dangerous and wild animal. There are multiple stories each year of alligators attacking people and ripping off limbs. The Florida alligator feeding statute is in place to protect people as much as the animals. By baiting the alligators, the animals may be accustomed to human contact and may attack people who do not provide it food.

If you are in Florida and come into contact with an alligator, you should just leave it alone. If you have food or fish scraps, you should throw them away into a trash can and not to the alligator. You are not being generous by feeding the alligator and are only inviting an alligator attack.

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