According to wildlife officers, a Florida man is facing several felony charges after he fatally struck a nesting alligator with mowing equipment.
Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) officers were called to a retention pond near Daytona Beach to investigate a report of an alligator intentionally struck by a large tractor with a mower attachment.
A witness who recorded the incident said he first saw 59-year-old Steven Dariff try to use the mowing equipment to frighten away the six-foot alligator.
The animal left but came back very shortly. Dariff then dropped the mower blade directly on top of the alligator, majorly wounding it.
According to the arrest report, the unnamed eyewitness said he only got involved because he felt the act was done on purpose.
Dariff, on the other hand, claimed to FWC investigators that he accidentally struck the animal.
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
But Dariff also claimed he was pretty skilled with the equipment, which further led officers to believe the action they saw on the video was intentional.
An FWC officer told news agencies that broken gator eggshells were found in a pile of debris moved by the mower.
The alligator had severe head lacerations and deformities to its skull and eyes and had to be euthanized.
Based on the evidence, FWC authorities charged Dariff with three counts of killing or capturing alligator eggs and one count of intentionally killing an animal with excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering.