Alligators are best left alone - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Alligators are best left alone

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May 18, 2006

Dougherty County -- In less than a week, three Florida woman were killed in separate alligator attacks. That's alarming news because like our southern neighbors, Georgia has a lot of alligators especially where we live.

Golfers at Stonebridge Country Club often find themselves playing just feet away from alligators.

"They don't bother us," said golfer Lamar Fisher.

Fisher isn't frightened by the reptile watchers. But he does keep a safe distance, only occasionally blaming the gators for a lost ball.

"I know they eat them," he said with a laugh.

DNR wildlife officer Julie Robbins says even though southwest Georgia has hundreds of alligators, they rarely attack people. 

"In fact, we only know of about eight attacks in the last 30 years," said Robbins. And none of those were fatal.

You should never get too close to alligators and never swim near them. Robbins warns not to feed alligators too. They get accustomed to people providing them with easy meals.

"They have fair eye site but most of what they react to is movement. So if someone is trying to throw a piece of chicken to an alligator, it reacts to the movement and may mistake them for that food item," said Robbins. 

Since alligators are protected under Georgia and federal law, it's illegal to shoot, kill or possess one this time of year. Georgia alligator hunting season starts in August, and hunters must get a license from the DNR.

"The only other time a person can shoot or kill and alligator is if they are in direct or imminent danger or are attacked by an alligator," says Robbins.

If you are attacked by an alligator, make a lot of noise and fight back. That often frightens them off.


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