Don’t Feed the Gators, Expert Warns

You’ve probably noticed something floating in a nearby pond or lagoon, or even a little closer. One of our area gators.

“If he’s in a  garage or on a front porch, he’s not a bad gator, he just didn’t know he couldn’t go in there,” said Joe Maffo of Critter Management.

Maffo has been trapping gators in the lowcountry for decades and says gators are getting closer, due to people, especially tourists feeding them.

“Feeding a gator, he loses his god gift of fearing man. He has a built in ability to stay away from man, if we throw our arms like we are throwing something into the water he should not come toward us.”

Maffo says the number of “gator in a neighborhood” calls he’s received this year has spiked. In Bluffton neighborhood, Pine Ridge, he’s gotten calls on three separate gators, including one this week from Sheila Boylle.

“We were just sitting outside and usually we see the alligator and its out there and no bother, but yesterday it just started swimming really fast toward us, so we went in. Its never done that before, so I just went in, so we’d be safe,” Boylle said.

Maffo says that’s exactly what you should do if you come across an alligator.

“Avoid it by all means. and if its a child, call it to someones attention. if its a gator crossing a street, he’s just going to another destination, he knows where he wants to go.”

He says besides public safety he’s also getting other worrying calls.

“People killing gators and then calling us and telling us they’re floaters. and we’re having it in high-end areas. Don’t antagonize a gator, don’t go near the water, don’t throw stuff at it.”

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