BUSHNELL, FLORIDA — When one landowner saw his horses acting funny out in the field, he knew something was up. He went out to investigate, taking his 9mm pistol along for safety. On a ranch with mini-horses, this man knew if his animals were acting funny, there was probably a reason for alarm. It turns out they had just cause: an overly aggressive alligator was staking out his animals.
It should come as no surprise that alligators roam the wilderness in Florida. However, most alligators tend to stay away from people if they can help it. This alligator didn’t want to do that.
According to News Channel 8, Reginald Blanton told reporters he shot the alligator with his pistol.
“I shot at him four times, and they said I hit him three,” he said.
When his step-son went out to investigate, they discovered the alligator was very much still alive. It lashed out of the water and nearly bit off the step-son’s head. The step-son was greivously wounded on his throat and on the back of his calf but was dragged to safety by others on the famr.
“Whenever he raised up after my stepson, it looked like he was shot out of a cannon. I had never seen nothing like it,” Blanton said.
Sumter County deputies arrived and shot the alligator to death. Its corpse was recovered from the water and disposed of by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The FWCC returned and cited Blanton for a first degree misdemeanor. He was subsequently arrested and his family had to bail him out of jail for shooting the alligator.
According to Florida law, no man is allowed to be in possession of an American alligator unless there’s a permit for it. Obviously, on his own land, he probably thought he was defending his livestock and potentially others wandering around the property. Florida decided to see it differently.
This is a case where the homeowner did nothing wrong. He sought to defend his livestock through the use of deadly force against an animal which had intruded on his property. That’s no different than shooting a wolf trying to make a meal of your sheep or coyotes coming after your chickens.
Unfortunately, the law can be quite strange sometimes and innocent people who did nothing wrong can get caught in the middle of it. Now Blanton is facing charges that he’ll have to fight through the aid of an attorney. And then there’s the medical expenses associated with his step-son.
What the heck can we say about this case?
It’s a situation where I think any gunowner would probably be hesitant in allowing an animal to take advantage of his livestock.
The only recommendation we can make is calling the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and have them remove the alligator. It seems counterintuitive because they inevitably would have been forced to probably shoot and kill the alligator anyhow. It’s not like alligators exactly take human direction.
“Excuse me, Mr. Alligator, but you’re trespassing on a guy’s property and it looks like you may try to eat one of his horses. Would you mind coming with us for a ride and moving into a different pond?”
That’s a request made by no living person anywhere.
Granted, the conservation of wildlife is a worthwhile endeavor in order to preserve the ecology of the land. It’s part of being a good shepherd to the lands we live on and the generations that will come after us. However, because of these nuisance laws, an innocent homeowner who acted well within his rights as a taxpaying citizen is now being charged as a criminal.
Sometimes, even the good guys get the bad end of a deal.