Vacationers thinking of visiting the Albermarle Sound or other coastal areas of North Carolina should not plan on feeding alligators.
Following recent reports of people seeking interaction with alligators, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is reminding residents and visitors that feeding or harassing alligators is both illegal and dangerous.
Alligators are native to North Carolina. They are common along the coast and in the coastal plain region.
“In most instances if you see an alligator, it is not necessary to do anything other than leave it alone,” said Wildlife Officer Daniel Kennedy, stationed in Pamlico County. “The Wildlife Commission typically does not trap and relocate alligators unless it presents a real threat — not a perceived threat — to people and animals, or is in imminent danger itself.”
Feeding an alligator will cause the animal to lose its fear of people, making it more likely to approach and possibly attack someone, according to Wildlife officials. Kennedy currently is investigating a case of an alligator being fed, which he warned could result in charges. But the more serious threat is the potential for injuries, he said.
Only authorized wildlife biologists and wildlife officers can remove problem alligators.
Alligators are listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Alligator hunting is prohibited by state law, as is the killing of an alligator.
To report wildlife harassment or other violations, call 1-800-662-7137. For information on wildlife conservation in North Carolina, visit www.ncwildlife.org.