HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Alligator sightings are becoming more common in Alabama — so it’s important to know what to do when one is spotted or how to avoid them altogether.
According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), alligator sightings are more common in the southern half of the state, especially in areas with wet marshes, lakes, and reservoirs. However, News 19 has reported several sightings in the Tennessee Valley over the last year.
According to a spokesperson from ADCNR, alligators first arrived in North Alabama in the 1970s.
At that time, more than 50 alligators were introduced to Wheeler Wildlife Refuge; however, some gators could’ve also been relocated from south Alabama.
ADCNR provided several safety tips for how to live alongside gators. Those tips include:
- Just leave them alone – It can be that simple. If you spot a gator, just don’t bother them and keep your distance. Alabama state law outlaws killing, harassing, or owning alligators as well.
- Don’t feed them – Feeding an alligator is also illegal. When you feed a gator in your community, they may begin to associate people with food and raise safety concerns for the area.
- Stay alert – If you’re in fresh water, pay attention to your surroundings so that you don’t disturb a gator.
- Swim responsibly – ADCNR states that alligators are mostly active at night, so be sure to avoid swimming from dusk to dawn in waters that could be inhabited by alligators.
- Watch your pets! – Small pets are a natural prey for alligators and will attract their arrest. Do not let your pet swim, exercise, or drink near waters where alligators could be living.
- Take your photos far away – It might be tempting to get a good, close-up picture of an alligator sighting for Instagram, but be mindful and only take those photos from a safe distance.
- Don’t throw fish scraps in the water – Dispose of all fish scraps in a garbage can if you are on a boat ramp, cleaning a fish near the water, or at a fish camp. Those scraps can attract and be an easy food source for gators.
- What to do if you’re bitten – If you get bitten by an alligator, seek medical attention as quickly as possible. Wildlife officials say their bites can result in gnarly infections.
If you do, in fact, come into contact with a troublesome gator in your area, Alabama has you covered.
Those nuisance alligators, as they’re called by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, should be reported to your local Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Office. The contact information for those offices can be found here.