Get the facts — Recreation safety at Lake Apopka North Shore

MAITLAND, Fla., Sept. 30, 2016 -- Recent news reports and social media posts have raised concerns about the alligator population near the St. Johns River Water Management District's Lake Apopka North Shore and the safety of visitors to the area.

MAITLAND, Fla., Sept. 30, 2016 — Recent news reports and social media posts have raised concerns about the alligator population near the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Lake Apopka North Shore and the safety of visitors to the area.

The facts below outline the district’s efforts to promote the safety of visitors and wildlife at the Lake Apopka North Shore:

  • Signage near the shores of Lake Apopka specifically alerts visitors to the presence of alligators. There is a diverse group of wildlife that call the Lake Apopka North Shore home. Due to the abundance of wildlife in the area, there is also an abundance of alligators, which are an integral component of the ecosystem.
  • Trail guides, maps, and other recreational resources request that visitors do not approach, feed or interact with any wildlife, including alligators. It’s illegal to feed a wild alligator – feeding causes them to associate people with food and overcome their natural wariness of people.
  • A recently launched audio guide for the area, which can be accessed at www.sjrwmd.com/LANS, reinforces rules to ensure the safety of visitors and wildlife.
  • Area rules state that visitors should not enter the fields or canals, most of which have very steep banks. Visitors should only observe and photograph alligators from a distance.
  • The district routinely works with local law enforcement and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to ensure the safety of visitors and wildlife.

Community interest in the Lake Apopka North Shore is attributed to not only the area’s diverse bird population but also the trails that provide unprecedented access to the area for activities such as hiking and bicycling. Since opening sixteen months ago, more than 81,000 visitors have experienced the wildlife drive, which traverses a network of wetlands, levees and canals, providing a variety of wildlife viewing opportunities.

More information about recreational opportunities on lands owned and managed by the district are available at www.sjrwmd.com/recreation.