Big rain may not wash away increase in alligator sightings

(Photo: William Campbell)
(Photo: William Campbell)

ISLE OF PALMS, SC (WCSC) - Last summer, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources says it received 12 calls over a three month span concerning alligator sightings in the Lowcountry. This year, they've already received the same amount of calls halfway through the month of June.

Ron Russell, a local gator consultant, says the almost month long drought Charleston has experienced has something to do with it.

"With the drought situation, alligators live in the water most of the time it's going effect them a little bit more than the other wildlife that lives among us," says Russell, the owner of Gator Getters.

Russell says he's preparing himself for an active summer if the conditions continue.

Wednesday, the gator getter had a full grown female in the bed of his pickup truck fresh from the Isle of Palms surf.

Russell said the gator, that will be euthanized because of a health issue, attracted crowd on the beach. In the group with camera in hand was IOP resident Bill Campbell.

"We have a neighbor down at the end of the street and he said around seven o'clock in the morning, 'come on down and bring your camera'," says Campbell. "So we grabbed the camera, jumped in the car and went down to the beach and sure enough there were five or six people down there looking at an alligator."

An alligator that was being wrangled by Russell.

The gator getter said there's no telling how the alligator ended up in the surf but there's a possibility it could be the first sign of loss of habitat due to the drought conditions.

"Alligators can overheat very, very quickly in the summer time," says Russell. "So a lot of it's just the layers in the pond and the different temperatures. If that upper temperature of that pond level gets down to the bottom of the pond where they can't stand it, they're going to have to find a deeper setting to cool off."

Russell says until the drought conditions ease up with a few good storms and the gator's have no need to relocate, communities in the Lowcountry have to be aware of their surroundings at all times.

A piece of advice, Campbell and his camera are taking to heart.

"I've never seen one out there before, so I'm not going swimming anymore out there," said Campbell.

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