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Man strikes alligator with mowing machinery, destroys nest


By Matt Lupoli

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    DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (WESH) — A large piece of mowing machinery meant for grass was used to strike an alligator and nest of eggs in Daytona Beach and lead to a months-long investigation.

Florida Fish and Wildlife describe what’s seen of the incident captured on video as intentional harm.

FWC was called onto this property off Tomoka Farms Road in Daytona Beach as it was happening June 10, according to court documents.

The person reporting what was going on was also recording it, telling FWC he wouldn’t have been involved if it didn’t seem deliberate.

Someone else also called in a report: the same man behind the wheel of the tractor, after seeing an FWC investigator arrive.

Steven Dariff told the officer, he was mowing the canal and the gator lunged at the mower’s blade. He also said he didn’t realize the boom swung into the nest of eggs until after it had been done.

But after an investigation, FWC found probable cause for an arrest.

On the phone, briefly, Steven Dariff denied the allegations against him, telling WESH 2 News, “I didn’t kill a gator.”

Court documents describe severe wounds to the gator’s head and missing limbs.

It was alive when the officer arrived, but its wounds are described as “mortal” and it had to be euthanized. The eggs from the nest were destroyed.

Dariff is out of jail on bond awaiting trial.

Florida has specific conservation laws protecting alligators and alligator eggs and, in this case, the two counts of illegally killing an alligator or eggs Dariff faces are third degree felony charges.

A pre-trial hearing has been set for this case in October. Court records show though, the defendant has waived his right to appear during that hearing.

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