MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - You may find them strolling across a golf course or basking by a lake. Some locals say they're now worried about alligators in the Grand Strand, after the story of a two-year-old being attacked and killed at a Disney Resort made national headlines.
The Snake Chaser, Russell Cavender, said his phone was ringing off the hook the morning after a two-year-old was dragged into the water at a Disney resort by an alligator. And while Cavender said that incident was horrible and tragic, it simply isn't the norm. Cavender said this type of attack probably came as a result of people feeding the gator, so the animal associated people with food.
"The number one thing you don't want to do is feed an alligator, If you feed an alligator, you kill an alligator." said Cavender.
Cavender says it is illegal to feed alligators in several states, including South Carolina. It is also illegal to relocate them. That's why if an alligator is reported as a nuisance, the only thing that can be done, is to kill them.
"In cases like this when you have northerners and people from other parts of the country that come down here and they've never seen an alligator before, all they think of is what they hear in the news occasionally and what they've seen on movie screens. Alligators don't attack people. They just don't," said Cavender.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, there have been zero deaths by alligators, and only 11 known people have been bitten since 1948. Alligators have been known to frequent ponds around golf courses throughout the Grand Strand and scare away other pests such as geese and rodents, and many golf courses actually want them there.
"They also get rid of muskrats, which cause tremendous damage to banks and rivers. And just the sight of an alligator swimming in a pond will keep a flock of geese out of it."
The Snake Chaser said overall, the key to dealing with alligators is simple common sense: don't.
"Gators are never going to come up to a person for any reason unless someone is feeding them. So 99% of the time if you walk up to an alligator that's on the bank, he's going to jump right back into the water and swim away."
According the DNR website, a person has a better chance of being struck by lightening than being attacked by an alligator. However, if you do see one and feel threatened, do not try to remove it. Instead, call local authorities.