Safety around alligators

1:08 p.m. on October 14, 2010 (EDT)
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I see alligators all the time while hiking or kayaking. How does one go about avoiding an attack? Recently there was an 8 foot gator in the middle of a trail, it took off into the woods when it saw me but stayed right next to the trail hissing and eventually chased me as I backed away. Also, how common is it for them to attack a kayak?

9:00 p.m. on October 14, 2010 (EDT)
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Hi jonny five,

I live near Charleston SC in a small city named Goose Creek, we are surrounded by wetlands, swamps, and many rivers & backwaters. We have a healthy gator population in my area.

I have never had a problem myself, I try to be alert, and keep my distance when I'm out in these areas. My experience has been that gators will avoid humans, most times slipping into the water when you get close, or will swim away from a boat or canoe. It is advised to avoid getting in between a gator on the bank and the water because you are blocking the gators escape route. Also avoid banks with thick vegetation.

The biggest risk seems to be during mating season when male gators tend to get aggressive and territorial (more so than usual) and during this time some of the smaller gators get harassed by the large gators. The smaller gators get displaced, often wandering into areas they would not normally be in, and can be in an agitated state during that time. One of the single biggest problems is people feeding gators, this draws alligators towards people with the gator expecting a meal.

As far as safety guidelines goes, my state has Alligator awareness information available to the public. I would tend to think all states with alligators would also.

Here is a link that might help:

http://www.crocodopolis.net/lwa_safety.htm

Here is a PDF with lots of good info and safety guidlines:

http://www.southcarolinaparks.com/files/State%20Parks/Wildlife%20Page/WW_alligators.pdf

9:06 a.m. on October 16, 2010 (EDT)
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Don't do what I did when I was 16 while night hiking along the bank of the Big Black River in MS. I accidentally stuck my foot through the roof of a nest with eggs.....to put it mildly the resulting chase scared me to death, and resulted in needing new drawers.

2:27 p.m. on October 16, 2010 (EDT)
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Trout, I didn't know you lived in Goose Creek! I used to work there on the weapons station at the "Nuke School"!

As for the gator thing, I have found that the best thing to do is to try and avoid them at all costs. They are pretty quick on land and if they get you in the water, especially the ones where I used to wakeboard, then that's it. That being said, I have found that MOST gators NOT ALL are pretty skittish around humans and if you give them their space, they will give you yours. However if you threaten them or their "home" then it is game on.

I totally agree with Trout on the feeding thing. Don't do it! Too many other stupid people have and that can make for dangerous gators!

7:14 p.m. on October 16, 2010 (EDT)
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One of the easiest to get to places for us to backpack is Lousy with gators. Have never had a problem with them (although I have had a sleepless night in mating season because of the mating going on within 100' of my tent, un-nerving to say the least). I have felt them bump the bottom of a kayak, but never had them try to do anything to the kayak. Like bears, they can be dangerous. And, like bears, attacks on humans are not common. Be aware, but not paranoid.

July 29, 2014
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