AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- As the weather warms up, people are starting to spend more time out on the water. Now, social media is blowing up with pictures of alligators in local waterways.
So, what do you do if you see an alligator while you are on the water?
The short answer is nothing. Leave them alone. The alligators are just out doing what alligators do in their natural habitat. Assume that if you are in the river, the canal, or even the lake there are alligators in the water.
People are posting pictures of their alligator sightings. Most people on social media advise the poster to leave the alligators alone– which is the right advice.
Truck Carlson is with the Veterans for Clean Water and works with the Savannah River Keeper. He explained to NewsChannel 6’s Kim Vickers that alligators can be curious, but for the most part are very afraid of people. They are not likely to approach people on the water but Carlson has some tips if they do.
“If in the rare occasion that a gator approaches you, slap the water with your paddle before they get too close. That will usually send them away. However, if they keep approaching, get away and immediately notify DNR.”
Some on social media advise calling the Department of Natural Resources if you see one.
He said not to call DNR if you see an alligator in it’s natural habitat. You do want to report an aggressive alligator. Those would be ones that continue to approach you.
Carlson explained that when alligators are on the bank or a waterway, they feel vulnerable and may quickly and loudly enter the water if they see you. They are not being aggressive in that case. They are hiding from people.
Alligators are afraid of people and will almost never approach you either on water or on land. Carlson said if they do– there is a good reason.
“There’s really only two reasons. One would be– you’re near a nest, which is super rare because they are super private with where their nests are where people aren’t going to be. The other would be, if the gator has been fed by humans. Usually, it’s human interaction that creates a problematic gator,” Carlson explained.
If an alligator is fed by humans it loses its fear of them and sees them as a food source. When that happens, the gator has to be put down.
Remember, it is illegal to feed alligators in both Georgia and South Carolina. You could be fined $200 and spend up to 30 days in prison.
So, if you see one in the wild—leave them alone and appreciate seeing its beauty.
To report an aggressive alligator call DNR at (706) 595-4222.
To learn more about alligators and their behavior CLICK HERE.
Photojournalist: Reggie Mckie.