July 2013

From The Editor - Don't Feed The Alligators

Author: Maggie Washo

Allow me, if you will, to stand on my soapbox for a minute as an animal lover. As a visitor to this lovely island, you’ve probably already seen a few dark brown wooden signs with the words “State and Federal Laws prohibit the feeding and harassing of alligators.” That seems pretty self-explanatory, but I find people often need to be told the “why” of things to fully appreciate a law/rule.

Of course, the most obvious reason is that we want you to return to Hilton Head Island next summer, which would be hard for you to do if you were lunch for some local gator. I jest of course. In general, alligators will avoid humans, as we are not really one of their favorite food items. However, if you get too close to a momma gator protecting her young, all bets are off. It is best to give these reptiles a wide berth—don’t bother them, and they will not bother you.

I spend a lot of time outside in the summer and repeatedly see our visitors feeding alligators to get a closer look. Here’s what you probably don’t know about why you should not feed them: a fed alligator is a dead alligator. No, not because it can’t stomach the fried food you saved it from your evening out. An alligator used to being fed will start to approach people—the fear replaced by an insatiable craving for hush puppies. Inevitably, the next family renting your house on the lagoon will find a fat reptile sitting on the back porch waiting for the bacon to finish cooking.
Much to the company’s dismay, Critter Management will be called, and that poor alligator will be trussed up and hauled away. No, he is not going to be relocated to a nice swamp in Florida. He will be shot in the head and processed for parts. It’s an ugly truth, and the more people who are aware the better.

Now go enjoy your summer vacation and give those hush puppy leftovers to your dog. And if it rains, go see the new Superman movie, Man of Steel. Pay no attention to Frank’s review on page 25. C’mon Frank! It’s a superhero movie. What did you expect?

Maggie Washo
Publisher/ Editor in Chief

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