10-foot, 400-pound gator in Bennettsville lake trapped, killed

10-foot, 400-pound gator in Bennettsville lake trapped, killed
(Source: Ray Loflin on Facebook)
(Source: Ray Loflin on Facebook)
(Source: Ray Loflin on Facebook)
(Source: Ray Loflin on Facebook)

BENNETTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) – A team of animal control specialists wrestled with a 10-foot, 400-pound gator at Lake Paul Wallace in Bennettsville Wednesday for about four hours before it was brought to the lake's bank and killed.

Ray Loflin of Dreamscape Outdoors Animal Control said the landowners had been having troubles with gators, including sightings of gators in the lake's swimming area. Dreamscape helped remove several from the lake last year.

He explained that the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources issues permits for the removal of nuisance animals like aggressive gators, and the landowners contract animal control companies like Loflin's to remove the animals.

According to the SCDNR website, gators are not typically aggressive towards humans, but serious and repeated attacks are normally made by gators over eight feet long.

"In the most serious alligator attacks, victims were unaware of the alligator before the attack," SCDNR states. "Most attacks occur in water, but alligators have assaulted humans and pets on land."

From 1948 to 2005, there were just nine reported alligator attacks in South Carolina, compared to 391 in Florida, according to the Florida Museum website.

Loflin said he and his team arrived at about 1 p.m. and worked on trapping one gator for about three hours before they noticed an even bigger gator. The team then worked for about four hours, using a hook to snag the 400-pound beast and drag it to the lake's bank. They then secured it with a high-strength tag line and shot it twice to put it down.

Loflin always brings the gator to shore before being put down, as it sinks almost immediately upon being shot, and is much more difficult to recover, especially in currents or heavy vegetation, according to SCDNR.

Loflin said that once a gator becomes a nuisance to the public, it can't be relocated and must be put down. The SCDNR site states that trappers are permitted by DNR to remove and dispatch any gator who may exhibit aggressiveness, has habituated behavior towards humans (likely from feeding), exhibits illness or injury, or inhabits a recreational swimming area.

"A fed gator is a dead gator," Loflin said. If humans feed a gator, it gets used to them and becomes a nuisance, he added.

Once a gator is caught, it's typically brought back to their facility to be processed, Loflin said. The hide and head are sold, as well as the meat, as long as it's processed by a USDA-approved processing plant. Loflin said this helps them recoup some of their costs.

Yesterday's gator is about a fairly standard-sized gator, Loflin said. The largest gator he's ever caught was 13 feet long and over 600 pounds.

Loflin started his company about 10 years ago, but having grown up in Louisiana, he's been around gators his entire life. His company covers 13 counties in the state, including the Pee Dee area, and removes all types of nuisance animals, from bats and moles to wild hogs.

Loflin said he's been called back out to the lake Thursday for another nuisance gator.

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