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Man says complaints about gator ignored

Lily will not be next. Neither will David Jr. or Emily. Or the cocker spaniel, Buddy.

David Wysong is serious about protecting his children _ and his dog _ from an alligator that attacked and killed a German shepherd Sunday.

Wysong believes that dog could have been saved if the mayor's office and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had responded to appeals from him and his neighbors.

Wysong, who lives along Sunlit Cove in the 100 block of 87th Avenue N, said he has called the Mayor's Action Line 15 to 20 times since early June. Each time, the mayor's office directed him to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The commission referred him to a local alligator control contractor who, Wysong said, did not show up for two meetings.

Janet Panebianco, Wysong's neighbor, filed a complaint with the commission two weeks ago and was in touch with trapper Joe Borelli Jr. on Monday morning.

Borelli said he looked for the alligator on Monday morning to no avail.

"Catching an alligator is not an exact science," he said. "Sometimes it takes half a dozen visits to even find an alligator."

Borelli, whose father, Joseph Borelli Sr., takes care of paperwork, declined to comment on past contact with Wysong. He said he and his father have caught 100 alligators since March, following parameters set forth by the commission.

After a gator attacks humans or pets, commission protocol is clear.

"We send a trapper out to get that gator," said Gary Morse, spokesman for the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Wysong's children, ages 3, 5 and 7, have been forbidden to go in the back yard since they were swimming off the dock in early June.

The gator popped up out of nowhere, about 15 feet from his youngest daughter. It has been feeding on ducks in the area.

"My neighbor said he was staring dead on at Lily like he was sizing her up for a meal," Wysong said of his daughter. Angela Wysong immediately got her children out of the water.

About a week later, the gator surfaced even closer to David Jr.'s puppy. The gator has been known to swim toward Angela Wysong as she fishes off the dock by the light of a citronella candle.

"If anything's moving around he'll swim over and check it out," he said.

Wysong's back door opens about 20 feet from the saltwater of Sunlit Cove. He said he runs out the back door to warn boaters passing through the cove. It's common for people to put down anchor and swim among the dolphins and manatees that frequent the area.

"I just don't want something to happen here like it did with that 2-year-old kid getting killed by a gator," he said.

Wysong was referring to Alexandria Murphy, a 2-year-old who was killed by an alligator in Winter Haven on June 23. Morse discourages feeding ducks or throwing fish remains in water because both activities indirectly feed the alligators and can encourage attacks.

Wysong's neighbors have seen the gator many times.

Gary Payne said it was stalking him as he weeded the garden near his break wall. He has since bought a fence to protect his dogs from falling into the water.

Morse said the commission does not act if a gator is behaving normally. If it appears to pose a threat, a permit is issued by mail to an alligator control officer who will trap the animal.

"I just don't want it to be one of my kids or one of my neighbors' before they do something," Wysong said.

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