JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — One visitor at Saint Clair Evans Academy on the Northside didn't check in at the front office.
Moncrief Creek runs behind the school, with a massive field separating it from the campus. The school has a fence running around the campus.
All of that wasn’t enough to keep a gator from taking a stroll without a hall pass.
“I live for adrenaline, and it’s part of the game," said FWC Nuisance Alligator Trapper Mike Dragich.
Dragich goes by the name Blue Collar Brawler when he’s in an MMA ring.
He took those fighting skills to a new type of ring with a different opponent – alligators.
“Man there’s nothing like it," said Dragich. "It gets the heart pumping, the juices flowing, and I love alligators. It’s a lot of fun and I have a lot of respect for the animals.”
Dragich has wrangled 31 alligators as a FWC nuisance alligator trapper.
But one at a middle school – now that’s a first.
“Alligators can be extremely aggressive, especially when sneaked up upon," said Dragich. "With little kids, it could have been deadly.”
Fortunately, on a Sunday night, there weren’t any kids on campus, just several lining the fence to get a look at the action.
Dragich was able to remove the gator without any issues
Although there is a fence around the school, Dragich says that won’t do much to keep gators out that really want in.
“They can climb," said Dragich. "I’m not sure what’s going to stop them that’s going to be price effective and aesthetically pleasing for a school.”
A DCPS spokesperson says facilities staff will survey the perimeter of the campus to figure out where it came in, then take preventative measures as appropriate.
Dragich is ready for the next call, wherever it may take him.
“I’ve had a lot of close calls, but glory to God, no serious issues," said Dragich.
FWC did euthanize the gator.
It’s policy to euthanize nuisance gators longer than four feet.
The FWC website explains if you release the alligator near the site, it’ll keep trying to come back, and if you take it out in the wild, the alligator may not survive around other gators with an established society structure.
DCPS full statement on the issue:
While this gator chose to visit the campus on a Sunday when no people were present, we do want to ensure the students are safe. All wildlife issues are handled on a case-by-case basis. In this case, facilities staff will survey the perimeter of the campus to determine where the alligator may have entered. They will take preventative measures as appropriate.