Gator pic

PHOTO BY MICHAELE DUKE

An armor-plated visitor decided to move into the Gilland Park area of the Black River last week. The arrival of a five-foot alligator where citizens swim and fish prompted officials to close the park for two days as a safety precaution.

The gator hung out at a shallow portion of the river, coming up periodically for air. However, the gator had not been spotted since Thursday, May 30, so Kingstree Parks and Recreation Director Tony McGill reopened the park.

Alligators rarely attack people and generally afraid of them. Provoking an alligator or even feeding them can lead to an attack. The best thing to do is give the reptile plenty of room to enjoy his habitat.

According to the SC Department of Natural Resources, alligators are federally classified as “threatened due to similarity of appearance” to other endangered crocodilians. The classification provides federal protection for alligators but allows state-approved programs for management and control. Alligators can be taken legally only by individuals with proper licenses or permits. Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas have programs to control problem or nuisance alligators that allow hunters with permits to kill or facilitate the removal of alligators.

In South Carolina, nuisance alligators should be reported to the DNR. Licensed trappers have been permitted by the SCDNR to remove and dispatch of any alligator who may exhibit aggressiveness, habituated behavior towards humans (most likely from feeding), illness/injury, or inhabit a recreational swimming area. For more information about alligators visit www.dnr.sc.gov.