SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - As a wrongful death lawsuit following an alligator attack sits in Beaufort County court, WTOC is getting a better idea of how South Carolina and Georgia monitor potentially dangerous gators.
In fact, many viewers have reached out to us, asking what to do if you spot one in your neighborhood.
South Carolina and Georgia do things differently when it comes to mitigating the risk of dangerous gators, that’s for sure, but they have a common message about safety: Be vigilant and always assume a gator is in the water.
Gators aren’t uncommon at all to see in the Coastal Empire or Lowcountry. As impressive and intriguing as they can look, it’s always a bad idea to get close to them.
A gator killed Cassandra Cline last August at Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island while she was walking her dog. Her husband sued the resort a few months ago.
It turns out, the South Carolina DNR gives tags to the communities on Hilton Head. Sea Pines had five tags annually to trap alligators. Data shows they filled none of the five in 2016 and 2017. However, they filled three after Cline’s death. Her husband says Sea Pines knew the 9-foot gator was a threat.
Though Sea Pines Community Service Associates did not acknowledge that allegation, they say, “Sea Pines CSA takes wildlife concerns very seriously and works together with designated authorities as appropriate to handle each situation.”
In Georgia, the Department of Natural Resources works with trappers to relocate or euthanize aggressive gators instead of issuing tags to associations or resorts. Here’s when you should call DNR.
“If there’s an alligator that’s approaching people or pets, showing no healthy fear of humans, then we definitely encourage people to call and let us know.”
Kara Day says me they won’t always come out and move the gator. It depends on the location, size, and threat level. If you live in a private community, like The Landings, you should bring the issue up with your HOA first.
“We cannot just go remove that alligator without them having a homeowner’s meeting and kind of coming to an agreement as a community that they all want that alligator removed, unless of course it is posing a threat to safety, then we’ll remove it in that case.”
The best piece of advice is to always assume gators are in the water near you, and admire them from a distance.
One more thing – don’t feed alligators if you see them. That’s one reason they end up not fearing humans. Losing that fear of humans can make them much more dangerous.