SC town sees influx of alligators

By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield - bio | email

SUMMERTON, SC (WIS) - Head to parts of Summerton, and there's a good change you'll run into a gator. In fact, it seems more gators are popping up throughout the Midlands. Officials with the Department of Natural Resources say despite hunting being legal, there's still a big gator influx in our area.

Susan Heisley is the park ranger at the Santee Refuge. At first glance, it might look like the Everglades. "A lot of people don't think about this far inland," said Heisley. "They think of them being coastal but a large body of fresh water is a great place for alligators to be."

Heisley says this year is peak for gator spotting because you can't hunt on this refuge, and because the climate in Santee is ideal.

The best days to try to see gators are days in the fall or winter. On days when there's not a lot of cloud cover, you can find them sunning on the banks.

Despite the shade overhead, our camera caught a baby, a mid-size gator and half of a big one. "It's very safe, most of the time wild animals are more afraid of us than we are of them," said Heisley.

Despite the horror stories you may have heard, Heisley says typically gators only attack if you feed them. Heisley says her park is embracing the attention, and maybe South Carolina could be the new Florida. "Why not?" she said. "Come to Santee Refuge, we've got tons of gators."

Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved.