COCOA, Fla. - A family is on high alert after their family cat was killed by an alligator in the neighborhood pond.
The family cat, Marmalade, disappeared on Saturday. Early Monday morning, the family said their cat floated up on shore with a large bite taken out of it. They were sure it was an alligator, and trappers found a 4-foot reptile believed to be responsible hours later. The male gator was removed from a pond in Port St. John after the incident.
"She searched and searched, and finally they found his body with a big chunk out of him," said Ann Bard who was still nervous following the ordeal.
Bard said her young grandkids always play in the backyard near the water. She is still on high alert, worried about what else may be lurking below.
"There could be a female that has a nest," she added. "That makes me worried."
Their family lost a cat, but Bard said she’s even more worried about kids with schools nearby.
"They come and fish and whatever in this little pond," Bard exclaimed. "On Easter, they were all there walking in that water, fishing, and they were sitting on the dock with their legs over and so that gator could have came and just bit their legs all off."
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A trapper quickly found the nuisance gator, which will be put down because relocating them is difficult, especially during mating season.
"If you transplant it and put it somewhere else due to dominance issues, you just transplanted the problem, and then it’s going to be killed by a dominant male," said Jim Lewis.
Lewis traps nuisance alligators for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). This new incident comes on the heels of another attack in Titusville where a man lost his leg. Trappers said they’re seeing more gators because of increased development.
"We’re seeing an uptick because we’re intruding into their area. It’s really not their fault, but at some point, you have to respect them being a natural, native predator here and have concerns for public safety, as well," Lewis said.
Bard is thankful her family is safe but still uneasy about her backyard pond.
"I don’t feel safe around this lake anymore with the kids. I think that is probably something that needs to be taken care of," she concluded.
Trappers said it’s important to call the nuisance gator hotline if you’re worried about a gator. That number is 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286). This family called Monday morning when they found their cat and the gator was trapped by this afternoon.
Trappers will come out as fast as they can to prevent another tragedy in the community.