Detective ensures safe landing for gator
New Year’s Eve was supposed to be a quiet shift for Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Agriculture Detective Justin Treworgy. He was going to come in, do some paperwork, and head out. Easy.
But a call from the Punta Gorda Airport changed all that, because a 7-foot alligator was heading for the runway to sun itself, a potential problem for an incoming commercial flight due to land any minute. His quiet shift suddenly became a race against time.
“It was a serious issue and could have caused serious damage,” Treworgy said. “It could have put the public in imminent danger.”
The detective sprang into action and headed for the airport, where he found the gator just steps from the main runway. He was able to drive the gator back from the flight line while Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer John Hoover got the gator’s attention.
Treworgy then snuck up on the animal and got his hands around its mouth, taping it shut. The animal then was turned over to the FWC to relocate to another area, and disaster was averted.
On average, Treworgy said, he deals with three to four random alligator calls a year, and, in fact, pulled a bigger gator off the runway in June. But even if it weren’t part of the job, Treworgy said, he’s used to dealing with such things, having been born and raised in Charlotte County.
“There’s things you learn growing up here, and it comes naturally to me,” Treworgy added. “You also learn a lot of things dealing with wild animals on this job.”
Treworgy said the gator didn’t fight too much, likely because of the cooler temperatures and the fact that he was attempting to warm himself on the runway. But looks can be deceiving, he said, as alligators are typically strong animals.
“The animal thinks you’re trying to hurt him and he wants to just get away. He’d kill you to get away,” he said.