There have been several incidents involving alligators in the headlines over the past few weeks. Perhaps the most tragic was the story of a toddler dragged from a Disney World hotel beach. The questions most commonly asked after that incident were "How could that happen?" and " What would you do if that happened to you?"

In Louisiana we are accustomed to seeing the occasional alligator especially in some of our rural areas. It's when we encroach on their territory that fireworks begin. Would you know the best way to survive an alligator encounter? Do your children know the best way to survive an alligator encounter?

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries knows two things are certain. Summertime in Louisiana means being out on the water and the water is where the alligators live. The Louisiana Radio Network asked LDWF Alligator Program Manager Edmond Mouton about ways we can keep ourselves and the alligators safe this summer.

Mouton suggested that alligators are like stray cats. If you feed them they will come back.

If you do start feeding alligators in a specific area they become accustom to humans and associate it with food and lose their fear of humans and they can become aggressive.

He also suggests that you learn more about the creatures, where they live, what their habits are, and the best ways to keep plenty of distance between you and these amazing reptiles.

Mouton says the LDWF has a special website dedicated to this kind of education. He hopes that all of us will use it as a resource.

To just become better informed about our whole alligator program, it doesn’t just describe nuisance alligators, it gives some biology and the different types of programs we have related to the alligator industry.

Mouton also explained the best way to handle a 'gator that you believe might be posing a public health threat. The first thing you need to do is call LDWF agents. Do not try to move or transport the animal yourself.

It’s illegal and it’s really unsafe for individuals to possess or move alligators on their own. They’re not licensed too and they’re not professionals.

We would echo that sentiment, especially the part about "not being a professional". Alligators live in our area. They were here first and will probably be here long after we are gone. I think our best bet is to learn to share the environment with a lot of respect for each other.