Editorial: Alligator Awareness

By / Editorials / Tuesday, 18 April 2017 04:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

Since the tragedy in Orlando Florida last year where an alligator killed a small child wading in the waters edge, there have been a reports about alligator sightings in our area. Last week I began receiving photos from area residents reporting alligator sightings along the water way in Carolina Beach. It's a serious topic that should remind people to never take nature for granted.
In Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, we have a lot of wildlife on land and in the water. Not just alligators. There are sharks in the ocean, coyotes in the Carolina Beach State Park, snakes in the woods, creeks and around residential homes. At certain times of the year you might get stung by a jelly fish, wander into a hornets nest, or even get pinched by a crab in the water. Granted, not all are equally severe experiences, but it's worth mentioning to remind people that when you see an alligator in Myrtle Grove sound swimming around someone's boat dock, there's nothing you can do about it other than be cautious and take measures to keep yourself and your family  (including pets) safe by avoiding close encounters. Alligators typically don't want to have anything to do with humans.
Some years ago I walked up on an alligator at the Carolina Beach Lake sunning himself on the bank. I've seen them in drainage ditches west of Lake Park Blvd in residential areas (Again, years ago, but it happened). I've seen them in the marina and the waterway. I once watched a video of a gator with a dog in it's mouth swimming around a marina in Carolina Beach. Black dog with a red collar. I've photographed them on the beach at Freeman Park near the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier. Most recently I photographed a small 4' gator sneaking up on me while I was photographing a storm over the Cape Fear River on the banks of Carolina Beach State Park. Not really sneaking up, but seemed quietly inquisitive or I was in his way and he wanted to come ashore into some marsh grass. Point is, we live in their natural habitat. We should keep an eye out for them and respect them. Keep our distance. Don't let kids swim in the waterway. Keep an eye out when dipping in the surf. Be mindful when walking your dog near water on this Island. Don't feed them. Don't approach them. This guy was quietly coming up behind me and I noticed him. I kept my distance until I got ticked off and just started walking towards him. I know, contrary to this post, but trust me, had he been any larger I would have run away screaming like I was in a horror movie. I love a great photo, but I'm not fond of getting into a fight I can't win. Be aware of the habitat in which you chose to recreate.
For areas along the waterway in Carolina Beach, don't leave pets unattended near the water. Don't let small children run around the waters edge. Certainly don't swim in it (Quality more than the Alligators). You'll be one of millions of people that have never been injured by an Alligator in Carolina Beach.
In short, the Town of Carolina Beach has very limited options and absolutely no authority to remove American alligators from their natural habitat. They occur naturally in North Carolina, inhabiting bay lakes, rivers, creeks, marshes, swamps and ponds, with local populations distributed in patches along the entire coast. Alligator hunting or otherwise killing an alligator is prohibited in North Carolina. Occasionally, an alligator in a place of business or on a highway is moved by NC Wildlife Resource Commission.

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