South Carolina is home to an estimated 100,000 alligators — many living in the state’s swampy Lowcountry areas and the only crocodilian species native to the state.
On Friday, June 24, “an alligator had taken hold of a neighbor” in the Myrtle Beach Golf and Yacht club community and “retreated into a nearby retention pond,” according to a release from local law enforcement. The person died, and the gator was euthanized.
Known as opportunistic feeders, the animals eat whatever is available to them, from fruit and insects to other mammals and even their own kind.
But fatal attacks on human by the creatures are rare. According to the state Department of Natural Resources, there have been three since 2016, most recently in 2020, when 58-year-old Cynthia Covert of Kiawah Island was killed during an encounter.
And last month, a six-foot alligator was relocated from an elementary school in Charleston County.
The University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory says staying safe around the critters is “straightforward.”
First, avoid feeding them. Doing so makes them bolder around humans and encourages them to seek out people, increasing the possibility of an attack.
Pets should always be kept away from them, and attempting to corner them for a photograph is also asking for trouble.