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Animal Control getting a lot of calls about gators - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Animal Control getting a lot of calls about gators

Alligator warning sign (Source: Live 5) Alligator warning sign (Source: Live 5)
Smaller alligator caught in Planters Pointe neighborhood (Source: Live 5) Smaller alligator caught in Planters Pointe neighborhood (Source: Live 5)
9-11 foot alligator in Planters Pointe neighborhood (Source: Liliana Cardona} 9-11 foot alligator in Planters Pointe neighborhood (Source: Liliana Cardona}
Critter Control trying to remove an alligator (Source: Live 5) Critter Control trying to remove an alligator (Source: Live 5)
MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) -

If you’re seeing a high number of alligators in your neighborhoods, it’s not uncommon for this time of year.

Jay Butfiloski, a biologist with the Department of Natural Resources, said they usually get a large number of phone calls during the Spring.

Late April to May is breeding season for the reptiles.

Kevin Murphy, owner of Critter Control, said he’s gotten many calls over the last few days about problems with the species.

"What he's doing is traveling down this wood line, back and forth just trying to avoid us," Murphy said.

The homes along Crowell Lane in the Planters Pointe neighborhood of Mount Pleasant have their fair share of gators.

Homeowners said they have dealt with small alligators for a while in the pond behind their homes.

It hasn't been a major problem until now, with a new visitor.

"This big one come out like last week and that's when I saw it over there,” said Liliana Cardona, of Mt. Pleasant. “I told my husband this alligator does not belong from here. A lot of kids come here and fish in the night-time. That alligator started coming up towards then, and I said, this is not right."

The Cardona family contacted the homeowner's association for the neighborhood, who then called the professionals.

"I'd say this one is probably 9 or 10 foot," Murphy said. “"The bigger they get, the longer they've been around, the wiser they are."

Butfiloski said it is not uncommon to see alligators this time of year.

More people are on the water, the gators are coming out of dormancy, and it's breeding season.

"We get a lot of calls in residential areas,” Murphy said. “It's a prime area for an alligator to feed because of stocked ponds."

Murphy managed to snag a smaller six foot alligator from the pond.

The larger gator though, that has homeowners concerned, proved to be a bit more difficult.

"It's hard because you've got him on a rod and reel,” Murphy said. “So all it's got to be is hung in a shoot, or something like, and he can roll the wrong way and you can lose him."

Murphy and his partner fought the gator for at least ten minutes, bringing him all the way to the edge of the water before losing him.

"He tears off and they'll hide,” Murphy said. “They feel that they're being pursued."

Murphy said in some cases they may have to come back at another time to try and get the gator.

When that happens they do warn homeowners to be careful around the area.

It’s against the law to feed alligators in the wild, the motto, “A fed gator, is a dead gator.”

Murphy said that’s because they can lose their natural fear of humans.

"When they lose their fear is when they really become dangerous,” he added. “Typically they'll run from you, they'll flee. They're not after something like us. They're more interested in eating fish, turtles, snakes, things like that."

If you feed the alligators you could face a fine of up to $150 and/or jail time up to 30 days.

You’re advised to keep your distance from the reptiles and possible nests, keep your pets away from them, and don’t swim in areas that could be home to the gators.

In most cases the alligators that are removed from the area are euthanized.

"They used to allow us to take them to public waters and release them then,” Murphy said. “The problem with that is when you show up to a boat ramp with people, their families and kids going fishing, skiing, whatever, you're letting a big alligator go into public waters and people don't like that."

He added the alligator sometimes will try to find its way back “home”.

“They'll come back,” he said. “They're prone to come back to the same area where they were a problem before. Usually they'll stay until they deplete their food source, then they'll move out of there."

Sometime the DNR does allow relocation, for example if they're in wildlife areas.

If an alligator is causing problems, you can contact the nearest state DNR office here, or local companies that deal with removal/control.

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