Double Ouch: Man Charged With Feeding Alligator That Bit Off His Hand

Airboat captain Wallace Weatherholt is being charged with a misdemeanor for feeding the gator that took his hand.

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In Florida, feeding alligators is a second-degree misdemeanor and for good reason: They bite. This is a double lesson that Wallace Weatherholt won’t soon forget. The 63-year-old airboat captain was charged Friday with unlawfully feeding an alligator — the same alligator that bit off his hand last month.

Weatherholt was leading a tour of the Everglades when he was attacked by the 9-foot alligator on June 12th. The Indiana family he had been guiding through the swamps, told the Associated Press that Weatherholt had been dangling a fish over the side of his airboat in an attempt to lure in a gator and impress the tourists. The alligator lunged for the fish, biting off Weatherholt’s hand in the process, which undoubtedly made quite an impression on the family he was leading. Not to mention on Weatherholt’s hand.

(MORE: How to Get an Alligator in the Mood for Mating)

According to the Sun Sentinel, after the attack, wildlife officers were able to track the animal. The gator was euthanized and Weatherholt’s hand was retrieved from inside the creature’s stomach. Unfortunately, though, his hand could not be reattached. Florida Fish and Wildlife officers then launched an investigation into whether the captain had fed or provoked the alligator, which led to charges being filed.

(MORE: Florida Teenager Catches Massive 800-Pound Alligator)

Weatherholt now faces a fine of up to $500 and possible jail time, the penalty for unlawfully feeding alligators in Florida. Collier County Jail records show Weatherholt posted a $1,000 bond after being charged with the misdemeanor. He is due back in court on Aug. 22.

MORE: Invaders: How Burmese Pythons Are Devouring the Everglades

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15 comments
IVANIVONOVICH
IVANIVONOVICH

 Poor fool, should have used a stick to hold out the fish. Hope it wasn't his right hand, unless he is left handed...But still stupid.

Lisa Stitzel Brown
Lisa Stitzel Brown

Maybe they should have checked the facts before they killed the alligator.  He died because of a stupid human.

edinvestor1
edinvestor1

Adding insult to injury.........literally!

Amy Hansen Tift
Amy Hansen Tift

The reason its against the law to feed gators in the first place is that they quickly come to expect food from humans/boaters and become aggressive. The gators then have to be euthanized because of their aggressive behavior. They can't be relocated because they will just return to their previous territory. This is a serious problem in Florida, as gators and people cross paths a lot. Plus, a tour guide should know better and set a good example for the public.

IVANIVONOVICH
IVANIVONOVICH

 You are right on the money...But apparently he wanted to impress his clients. Sure did impress them now didn't he. Showed them that "gators" bite. If a person wants to see Gators or Crocs, they need to go to the farms, at least there you can get up close, without having them in a place where they can get to you.

avik
avik

The man's just lost his arm. Isn't that bad enough? Agreed that it was his fault. But slapping him with a lawsuit just goes to show the extent of greed of the prosecutors to garner bucks out of something so tragic.

IVANIVONOVICH
IVANIVONOVICH

 There is a reason behind the law, and someone has to be paid by the government to go out and kill the one gator, to retrieve the fools hand. There are laws like this in most states, against feeding "wild life". Do you think all animals are just "sooo... cute" ? These laws are there to prevent the animals from becoming "nuisance" animals...Perhaps you wouldn't mind having your back yard become a feeding ground for some other predator ?

quecue
quecue

     Avik,

Greed? With a (UP TO) five hundred dollar fine the county court system

will actually lose money. The prosecutor is a government employee just

doing their job. Maybe they shouldn't fine him though - just have him

pay the salary and expenses for the cost of having to hunt down the

gator and extracting the arm, plus the county hospital medical costs of

assessing/attempting the viability of/ reattaching the arm, plus the

ambulance costs, plus the police and/or fire departments that responded,

costs of maintaining the 911 system, plus the transportation and rescue

costs for the people on the air boat...

quecue
quecue

    Avik,

Greed? With a (UP TO) five hundred dollar fine the county court system will actually lose money. The prosecutor is a government employee just doing their job. Maybe they shouldn't fine him though - just have him pay the salary and expenses for the cost of having to hunt down the gator and extracting the arm, plus the county hospital medical costs of assessing/attempting the viability of/ reattaching the arm, plus the ambulance costs, plus the police and/or fire departments that responded, costs of maintaining the 911 system, plus the transportation and rescue costs for the people on the air boat...

IVANIVONOVICH
IVANIVONOVICH

 Even with a 500 dollar fine, he's getting off cheap. Could have eaten the rest of him as well...Poor crock.

Michael Bochenski
Michael Bochenski

Deputy Fife, said defiantly, "His handcuff keeps falling off one side." during the arrest 

John Forsthoffer
John Forsthoffer

Wasting tax dollars on something so silly. The man lost his hand, I think he learned his lesson. If people want to do stupid things, let them. And then they euthanized the alligator. Why? He got the taste of blood and he is on the man hunt now? Must be something in the water in Florida that affects brain cells. 

IVANIVONOVICH
IVANIVONOVICH

 They do this in most states with any predator... Can't let them get the taste for human flesh, and become "man eaters". Too bad though, for the animal. The problem though is with the stupid people out there, making bad decisions. This is why there is a law against this action.And it goes for most of the apex predators...Except the one at the very top. We get away with killing too many animals in the wild, (I'm not talking about our domestic animals) sometimes for no real reason except "sport". Wonder if they used the meat and the skin..?