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Deadly Encounters: Alligator attacks are up in South Carolina

WYFF 4 Greenville-Spartanburg 9/27/2022
Gator © Associated Press Gator

Newly acquired data from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources suggests there has been an increase in the number of alligator encounters in the Palmetto State.

(Video above Alligator on Folly Beach)

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Since 2000, there have been 22 alligator attacks in the state. Seven of the 22 attacks happened in the last two years. Five of the 22 attacks have been deadly. Two of the five happened in 2022; one in Horry County, the other in Beaufort County.

DNR officials said it is not that the alligator population is getting out of hand. It's that so many people are moving to the Lowcountry it's causing alligators to become desensitized to humans.

Video below: Police wrangle alligator near SC school

"We have experienced significant growth in the human population along the South Carolina coast, an area where alligators have always been present," a spokesperson for DNR said. "This means there are more people living in closer proximity to alligators. There are more opportunities for interactions between people and alligators and opportunities for alligators and people to be desensitized to the presence of the other."

In order to stay safe, there are a number of things you can do.

Host of "The Outdoorsman" Buck McNeely said, "First of all, situational awareness for every individual no matter where they are or what they're doing."

McNeely said you need to always look out for gators, especially at night.

"Alligators are primarily nocturnal hunters," he said.

If you have a dog, McNeely said you should never walk them near the water as it can be easy for a gator to grab them, or you.

"I've heard stories about big ole' alligators that are taken, they open them up and find five or six dog collars in the gator's stomach," he said.

You should also avoid swimming, canoeing or kayaking in areas where gators are found.

"These alligators can actually move pretty fast on land, and in the water, they're extremely fast because their tails propel them, huge muscular tails," McNeely said.

The DNR said it's important that everyone never feed a gator, either directly or indirectly, as it can make them lose their fear of humans.

"Feeding alligators can cause them to associate people with a food source, and they lose appropriate fear. Feeding can occur either directly or indirectly by feeding turtles, fish, birds, or other animals, or by cleaning fish and/or disposing of the guts in the water. Feeding alligators is illegal and creates a potentially dangerous situation," a spokesperson for DNR said. "If alligators are fed or lose their appropriate fear of people, SCDNR has a statewide nuisance alligator removal program that the public can call any time. Alligators that are exhibiting regular nuisance behavior are removed."

Alligator hunting season is currently underway in South Carolina. It serves as another way for the state to control the population.

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