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.
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.
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.