How to be Safe Around Alligators

Seabrook Island is home to a healthy population of the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), a species once protected under the Endangered Species Act. In 1987 the American alligator was no longer considered endangered and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service classified it as “threatened due to similarity of appearance to other threatened or endangered crocodilians.” This status protects alligators, but allows states to legally harvest them by issuing permits.

Generally, alligators are not a threat to people and their pets. However, the Seabrook Island Property Owners’ Association (SIPOA) has developed a policy for determining whether or not an alligator qualifies as a “nuisance alligator” and therefore warrants removal under the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Nuisance Alligator Program. Removal occurs relatively infrequently.

To be safe around alligators, remember:

  • Do not feed alligators. Feeding alligators reduces their fear of humans.
  • Keep your distance. Alligators can run faster than you.
  • Do not attempt to move alligators out of the road.
  • It is illegal to harass or throw things at alligators.
  • Do not disturb nests or small alligators. Female alligators are very protective.
  • Keep your pets and children away from alligators.
  • Do not corner or trap alligators.
  • Be alert around the shore of freshwater ponds or wetlands.

SIPOA Alligator Program Policy: Alligators less than four feet long are incapable of eating anything larger than a small turtle and do not pose a threat to even small pets or people. Alligators at least four feet in length that pose a threat to people, pets or property are considered “nuisance alligators.” If you have a concern about an aggressive or nuisance alligator, call Seabrook Island Security at (843) 768-0822 immediately. If SIPOA staff and Security determine that removal is warranted, a professional alligator trapper licensed by the SCDNR will be summoned to remove the animal.  Click here to read the full SIPOA Alligator Program Policy.

-Submitted by Susan Leggett, Member, SIPOA Environmental Committee