By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH – An alligator living at a pond along a new Island Greenway path gained more attention on Monday morning May 6th when he was seen walking down the path. A person noticed the alligator on the path and called police. North Carolina Wildlife Officers were called and the alligator was returned to the pond.
The Town of Carolina Beach recently opened a new 1.2 mile long multi-use bike and pedestrian path called the “Island Greenway”. Part of the path runs along a drainage pond and residents began expressing concern about a large alligator seen living in the area and along the banks of the pond.
Town Manager Lucky Narain said, “We are in the process of developing an informational campaign. This includes the placement of signs, which I believe are already placed on the Island Greenway.”
He explained, “The NC Wildlife Resource Commission (NC-WRC) will not allow for the removal of an alligator unless it is in excess of 9-feet long, crawls up onto public or private property, or blocks a roadway. Alligators are a concern, but lakes, rivers, creeks, marshes, swamps, and ponds in the coastal regions of NC are the natural habitat for alligators.”
Narain said negative interactions with alligators can occur when people feed them which in turn causes them to associate humans with a food source.
Narain explained, “Absent State permission/authority, poaching, harming, harassing, or intentionally feeding alligators in NC is illegal. In October 2017, the NC-WRC approved an Alligator Management Plan. On pages 10-11 of this plan population management is discussed and viable options of relocation or lethal removal are considered. These options appear to be limited to situations where the alligator is “causing a problem, such as a food conditioned alligator or an alligator is blocking traffic.”
According to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, American alligators occur naturally in North Carolina, inhabiting bay lakes, rivers, creeks, marshes, swamps and ponds, with local populations distributed in patches along the entire coast. Alligators become less common in coastal NC as you move from south to north.
Climate, specifically the number of cold weather days, limits their “growing season” and their ability to survive and reproduce. Coastal NC is considered the northern extent of their range, and alligators in NC have much slower growth rates, reproduce less frequently, and populations are more vulnerable to local extinctions than other more southern states. It is unlawful for the public to kill, harm or harass an alligator in NC. Although seeing an alligator for the first time may be scary, North Carolina alligators rarely pose a threat to humans. If an alligator is seen on private or public property it is not immediate cause for alarm.
Common Sense Safety Tips:
• Do not intentionally feed an alligator no matter what its size.
• Do not throw food into waters where alligators may be found.
• Fishermen should dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans, and not throw them into the water.
• Do not feed ducks, geese, other waterfowl or fish in areas where alligators have been seen.
• Follow local leash laws or otherwise keep pets on a leash in areas where alligators could potentially occur.
• Never leave children unattended near any body of water.
• Don’t allow pets to swim, exercise or drink in or near waters that may contain alligators.
• Be particularly cautious between dusk and dawn when alligators are most active.
• Do not harass or provoke any alligator.
• Children and adults should never approach an alligator or any other large wild animal.
• If the alligator is in a residence or place of business, or interrupting traffic on a public road, call WRC at 800-662-7137.