PANAMA CITY — Florida State University Police Officer Freddy Kinard was called in to help escort an unwanted visitor off the Gulf Coast State College campus Monday who definitely didn’t have the proper student ID.
Kinard, who patrols FSU PC and GCSC, said he received a call from across Collegiate Drive that morning about a three-foot-long alligator hanging out under some equipment from the construction site in the athletics building parking lot. Unfortunately the school wasn’t looking for a new mascot, so the construction worker wrangled the gator, taped its mouth shut, and deposited it in the back of his pickup for safe keeping before calling the FSU police, who contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The FWC officer arrived with some good news — he would be able to take the alligator and deposit it in a local river — along with a stern warning. Possessing an alligator, he said, is a federal crime and next time, the worker should immediately contact FWC.
“The smaller gators are also more dangerous than the larger gators,” Kinard said. “They’re aggressive and more rambunctious.”
Kinard said the alligators usually come in from the bay and swim up the canals, using the drainage system to move between retention ponds. In fact, he thinks there’s probably a good population of them living under FSU PC in the drainage pipes. Chief Osceola would likely have something to say about that.
“I think they live under the college here,” Kinard said. “We have some big drainage pipes.”
Kinard said he’s only had two run-ins with alligators in his years patrolling the campuses. A few months ago he found one, but it was able to duck into the drainage system before FWC could respond, and the other encounter was on Monday.
For anyone who might spot an alligator on one of the campuses, or anywhere where it might pose a danger, Kinard advised they should contact FWC and not try to handle the alligator themselves.
“There’s a better chance that the alligator will live if they do that,” he said.
Plus, there’s a better chance everyone gets to keep their fingers.