Don’t feed the ‘gators; Indian Lake reptile meets untimely demise

31 May 2007 | Mr. Nathan L. Hanks Jr.

Indian Lake was reopened after Georgia Department of Natural Resources contractors removed a large alligator May 18.

The recreational area was closed when a 640-pound, 11-foot 5-inch alligator was considered a safety concern because it had lost its fear of humans.

“People were feeding him, contrary to the no feeding signs,” said Eddie Parramore, natural resource manager, Environment Branch, Installations and Environmental Division, Marine Corps Logistic Base Albany. “When people feed wild animals it alters their behavior to the point where they no longer fear humans.”

“An alligator this size can be very dangerous in close proximity to people, especially small children and pets,” he said.  “The alligator was only reacting to its environment.”

According to Parramore, after several days of discussions, it was decided that the alligator should be removed and the plan was to relocate him to a nearby alligator farm. 

“While the Base Environment Branch is committed to the conservation and protection of the wildlife species on this base, the decision was made in the best interest of the base residents, employees as well as the alligator,” he said.

To lend assistance with the removal was Danny Jones, a professional nuisance alligator contractor from Georgia DNR. 

“As soon as we walked out on the dock, he came straight up to us,” Jones said. “When a wild animal does that, it means somebody had been feeding him, which can eventually present a dangerous situation.”   

Jones tried to catch him using bait. Once the bait was taken, the alligator was brought in close enough to put a steel snare around him. The snare, which would have made him easier to handle when he was out of the water, broke once the alligator was on the bank.  

“Once he broke the snare we had to take other measures and dispatch him here on site,” Jones said.  

“If people had not fed him, we would not have had to remove the alligator from its natural habitat,” said Al Belanger, game warden, Environment Branch. “Because people disregarded the warning, we had to intervene before someone got hurt.”

“It is very disheartening to know that this could have been prevented,” he said. “This animal, which was estimated to be between 30 to 40 years old, met an untimely demise because people ignored the sign.”

Parramore explained that alligators play an important part in the wetland system.

“Alligators help balance nature by eating turtles, fish — particular rough fish such as gar and bowfin — and a variety of other organic matter,” he said. “The alligators on base have enough food to survive and this is why they don’t need to be fed.”  

Belanger said, “To prevent another situation like this from happening in the future, please read the signs: ‘DON’T FEED THE ALLIGATORS.'"
Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany