VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — A Lake Helen man is facing two felony charges after wildlife officers say he intentionally struck an alligator with mowing equipment, mortally wounding it.
The arrest report for 59-year-old Steven Dariff says he also used the mower to destroy a nest of alligator eggs.
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Florida Wildlife Commission officers were called to a retention pond area near Coquina Cove park in Daytona Beach back in June for a report of an alligator that had been struck by a lawnmower.
A witness told investigators he first saw Dariff attempt to use his mowing equipment, attached to the end of a tractor, to scare the six-foot alligator away when it crawled onto the bank of the pond.
Alligators can be found in all 67 #Florida counties. Keep your pet safe by never allow them to swim in fresh or brackish water. https://t.co/8mPpdZm46d #AlligatorAware #Alligators pic.twitter.com/EERprbqqiX— MyFWC (@MyFWC) August 19, 2021
The witness, who also shot video of the incident, told investigators Dariff tried to scare the alligator a second time using the blades, but the witness’ video then shows the mower blade drop directly on top of the alligator, severely wounding it.
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A wildlife officer responded to the scene and euthanized the alligator.
According to Dariff’s arrest report, the witness said he only got involved because he felt the act was intentional.
FWC investigators also found broken alligator egg shells in a pile of debris that was moved by the mower.
When interviewed by investigators, Dariff claimed he accidentally struck the alligator while trying to scare it away from the nest.
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Dariff also claimed he was quite skilled with the equipment he was using, which further led investigators to believe the act they saw on the video was intentional.
Based on the evidence gathered, FWC officers charged Dariff with two felonies, one each for striking the alligator and the nest of eggs.
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