More than 15 gators have been removed from Disney World property in 2016 so far

By Rose Minutaglio
June 23, 2016 12:45 PM

Hundreds of “nuisance” alligators have been trapped and removed from Walt Disney World property in Orlando over the 10 years, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

From May 22, 2006 through May 14, 2016, 244 gators were caught at the resort, a report released to PEOPLE says. That tally does not include the six alligators trappers caught after 2-year-old Lane Graves was killed by one on June 14.

Officials would not say if they were all killed, but on June 15, Nick Wiley, executive director of the FWC, told reporters that nuisance alligators ‘have to be euthanized when they become a problem.”

Sixteen of the 244 were removed this year so far, including six on May 10, 2016. One of those was 9 feet long and another was 8.5 feet long, records show.

A Disney official declined to comment specifically on the report, instead referencing its statement from June 17.

“We have installed signage and temporary barriers at our resort beach locations and are working on permanent, long-term solutions at our beaches,” said the statement released by Jacquee Wahler, vice president of Walt Disney World Resort.

Disney has an “open permit” to manage its alligator population, the FWC says.

“FWC permits Disney to remove alligators on its property,” FWC spokeswoman Tammy Sapp tells PEOPLE in an email. “The company often contracts with FWC trappers for removal. When an alligator is removed, they report it to our office.”

Lane Graves
Orange County Sheriff's Office

On Wednesday, the FWC confirmed to PEOPLE that the alligator responsible for the death of Lane Graves had been “removed” from Disney World’s Seven Seas lagoon and euthanized.

The correct animal was identified based on “expert analyses and observations by staff with extensive experience in investigation fatal alligator bite incidents,” the FWC said in a statement.

FWC subject matter experts, a forensic odontologist and FWC law enforcement investigators took into account witness descriptions, proximity to the site of the attack and size to identify the correct alligator.

During the FWC investigation, trappers “humanely removed” six alligators from the area where Lane was snatched by a gator.

Three of those six alligators were of the correct size to have taken the toddler. Two of those three were in close enough proximity to the incident to have killed him.

“While results of a bite were inconclusive, subject matter experts were able to conclude that either of the two suspect alligators captured near the attack site were capable of inflicting the observed wounds,” the FWC said in a statement released to PEOPLE.

The FWC also said that “DNA was collected from the victim and all alligators captured. Results from the victim’s wounds were negative for animal DNA, and no comparison could be made.”

New signs unveiled by Disney on Friday
Courtesy Walt Disney World Resort

FWC officials estimate there are 1.3 million alligators living in Florida, but say that alligator attacks are “a very rare occurrence in Florida,” though.

“FWC works diligently to keep Floridians and our visitors safe and informed on what to do if they spot a potentially dangerous alligator,” they said in a statement.

Lane’s parents Melissa and Matt Graves set up a memorial foundation in honor of their son. They declined to comment on the capture of the alligator that killed their son and the new statistics released showing the prevalence of alligators at the resort.

“After the tragic loss of our beloved 2-year-old son, Lane Thomas, we have created the Lane Thomas Foundation to honor his memory,” the parents said in a statement. “Losing Lane has broken our hearts in the worst possible way. While there is no way to mend our hearts, we can do good work in his honor.”

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