Yesterday at work, I was flagged down by a woman who wanted to report an alligator in the middle of the road. Not an unusual occurrence in alligator country, but not as common as it once was. At four or five feet, the alligator was not a large one, but there was a group of about 10 people who were stopped in the middle of the road, out of their cars trying to get pictures of the animal, some of them as close as 10-12 feet away.
The alligator was facing them, mouth open, and hissing at them. For those of you who do not recognize the behavior of an animal that feels threatened, this posture is alligator speak for “Leave me alone, or I will maul your ass with these huge teeth I’ve got here.” When an apex predator such as an alligator, or any animal, takes this sort of an aggressive posture, it behooves you to pay attention to the message and move away slowly without turning your back on it, lest you trigger a pursuit response from the predator. When the nice firefighter tells you to get in your car and leave before you get eaten, you should probably do so.
Of course, that is not the behavior of the people in my area. Instead, they want to argue with you about how they only want a picture, and how you can’t order them around. Hey, I am not going to argue with you, go ahead and get your pictures. Once you get bitten, though, don’t file a complaint against me when I laugh at you.