RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina officials offer some handy tips for residents co-existing with alligators.
Alligators are naturally secretive and shy, but can become a public safety issue if they get used to being fed by humans, they say.
“Alligators are opportunistic feeders, which means they’ll eat just about anything they can fit into their large mouths— from turtles and fish to birds and mammals,” said Jessie Birckhead, an extension biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. “We advise people to not feed ducks, geese or other waterfowl in waters where alligators are known to live. Likewise, anglers should take their fish scraps with them or throw them in the trash instead of throwing them on the ground or back in the water.”
The WRC said it’s easy to coexist with alligators. But it’s illegal to feed, harm, harass or poach the prehistoric beasts. Alligators are native to the state’s coastal plain, and inhabit fresh water lakes, rivers, creeks, marshes, swamps and ponds. The animals are listed as threatened by the state.
“Because of the state’s relatively colder climate, North Carolina’s alligators have a relatively short ‘growing season’ compared to those in more southern states,” state officials said. They’re also more active during warm weather.
Officials offered these tips:
- Keep pets on a leash and do not allow them to swim, drink or exercise in or near waters where alligators have been seen.
- Watch young children closely and never leave them unattended near any body of water.
- Be especially cautious in and around waters where alligators have been seen between dusk and dawn — times when alligators are most active.
- Never approach an alligator — no matter what its size.
Anyone with questions about alligators or other topics can call the WRC at (866) 318-2401 Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To report poaching, harassment, feeding or other alligator violations, call (800) 662-7137.