FWC: Gator that bit man might have been protecting nest in Orange County park

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A man in his 30s was bitten on the thigh by an alligator Thursday evening at a park near the Pine Hills neighborhood, Orange County Fire Rescue said.

Firefighters were called shortly before 7:15 p.m. to a disc golf course at Barnett Park after the man was bitten by the gator, agency spokeswoman Ashley Gipson said.

The man was trying to retrieve a disc from the water and might have startled a female gator, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.

Wildlife officers said they discovered a nest with eggs and that they believe a mother gator was protecting it.

"Female alligators -- they can be very aggressive when it comes to their nests," FWC Officer Chad Weber said. "(During) nesting season, adult alligators -- especially if she's there, she'll defend her eggs. It's an accident. She's just doing what's natural to her."

In any case in which a human is attacked, the gator is deemed a nuisance and is killed.

The man, whose identity hasn't been released, was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center with minor, non-life-threatening injuries, Gipson said.

Wildlife officers said they'll remain at the park until the gator is captured.

FWC reports show that there have been more than 400 gator bites in the last 70 years, 24 of which were fatal.