Bend In The Branch

The personal opinions of one among many.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Please Don't Feed the 'Gators

Alligators are not known for their intelligence and generally associate their meals with movement in the waters they inhabit. The creature pausing for a drink from the waters of a hungry alligator’s lair is just as likely to suffer an ill fate as is the floating aluminum can.

The well-meaning, but ill-informed often provide food to these predators. Such actions only endanger them and the alligator. Once an alligator associates a human with food, it can not distinguish the hand that feeds it from the food, and the fear that has protected the alligator wanes to its instinct to hunt for more food…better food.

Man Found Dead in Florida Alligator Attack

(AP) - LAKELAND, Fla.-A man found dead in a pond was the victim of a nearly nine-foot alligator that was captured and killed, the medical examiner's office said Tuesday.
Officials did not know what Don Owen, 56, a truck driver from Bartow, was doing at the pond about a dozen miles from his home. He had been missing since Wednesday when he was seen at a convenience store.

On Saturday his remains were found by several men fishing in Six Pound Pond. An autopsy determined he had been killed by the eight-foot, nine-inch alligator, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.

Trappers caught the alligator Monday. Owen's forearm was found in its stomach.

Residents said they had fed the alligator, which is illegal and dangerous, said Gary Morse, spokesman for the wildlife commission.

Alligators normally flee from humans unless threatened or cornered, but alligators that have been fed by humans begin to look at them as a food source, he noted…

Lest you need further incentive, it is illegal to feed alligators in South Carolina.

SECTION 50-11-750. Unlawful to feed or entice with food any alligator; exceptions; penalties.

[SC ST SEC 50-11-750] It is unlawful for any person to feed or entice with food any American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), except those persons feeding alligators maintained in protective captivity under a permit issued by the department pursuant to Section 50-15-50 for education, scientific, commercial, or recreational purposes; or department personnel, persons licensed, or otherwise authorized by the department, or county or municipal animal control personnel when relocating alligators by baiting or enticement. Any person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined in an amount not to exceed two hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days.


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