updated 4/24/2009 6:43:01 PM ET 2009-04-24T22:43:01

Florida alligators are known to roam in springtime when they search for mates, but a Tampa woman was mystified to find one parked on her doorstep.

Belinda Donaldson got a call Thursday morning from a neighbor who warned her to stay inside because an 11-foot alligator was lounging on her front stoop. She looked out the window and there it was, just outside her door.

Donaldson said alligators sometimes wander away from one of the many lakes in her suburban neighborhood of tidy lawns and neat, single-story homes just west of Tampa, but she'd never seen one that big.

A trapper struggled for an hour to bind its jaws with a loop of rope on the end of a stick before getting the 400- to 500-pound reptile tied up and hauling it away in a truck.

Florida has more than a million alligators. Wildlife officials get thousands of complaints every year from residents fearful of gators, which can eat dogs, cats, and, very infrequently, people. About 140,000 problem alligators were killed in Florida between 1977 and 2007.

Alligators can be found in any freshwater body throughout the state, likely part of the reason for attacks on humans — at least 312 unprovoked ones in Florida since 1948, 22 of them fatal.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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