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Alligator Safety

Dear Dewees Community,

Many of you are aware of the recent alligator attacks in South Carolina and Florida this week. These unfortunate tragedies made national headlines, and they serve as an important reminder for us to be vigilant at all times.  We are so fortunate that our beautiful island is a truly unique wildlife habitat, but it is also imperative that we take the time to remind our visitors and residents alike that they should remain alert at all times, respecting the habitat, and being cognizant of the inherent dangers that can exist in all areas of the island. 

Alligators are protected under South Carolina Regulation 123-151 and it is against the law to feed or harass them. 

  • Alligators can move very quickly, so please do not approach them.
  • Keep at least 60 feet away from alligators at all times. If you get too close, back away slowly.
  • Do not assume that alligators are slow and sluggish. They are extremely quick and agile and will defend themselves when cornered. They rarely chase people, but they can outrun or out swim the fastest person for the first 30 feet.  And, please don’t allow children to play unsupervised around the water. 

In the attack in Hilton Head, eyewitnesses report that the lady killed was trying to protect her pet from the alligator.  Please keep your pets on a leash and away from the water.   Pets are exactly the size and shape of common alligator prey. Keep them safely away from the water’s edge and on leashes that are no longer than 6 feet.  Do not let your pet drink from or enter the water in alligator habitat.  Alligators have a keen sense of smell. Your pet will be curious, and the alligator may see it as an easy food source.  Do not throw rocks or other objects into the water, because to an alligator a “splash” means food.

Please see the links below for more information on how to be safe around alligators



Lastly, here are some other important reminders about alligators:

  • Splashing: Alligators are attracted to splashing as a potential prey source. 
  • Hiss: If an alligator hisses, it’s warning you that you are too close. Back away slowly.
  • Protect: A female protecting her nest or young may charge if you get too close, but she should quickly return to the nest after you leave. Avoid piles of twigs, grasses and/or soil near the side of the lake. Also avoid any group of small alligators under a foot long.
  • Bask: Alligators often bask along the banks of ponds, on edge of the impoundments, and on the platforms we have created. They are usually warming their bodies; they are not actively hunting. Often a basking alligator will have its mouth open. It is cooling itself, as alligators do not pant or sweat.
  • Crabbing, cast netting & fishing can attract unwanted guests. To limit attracting alligators when crabbing keep bait on the bottom, release unwanted bycatch in exterior waters when cast netting and do not use topwater fishing lures in known alligator habitat. 
  • Feeding: Feeding alligators is unlawful and intensifies the risk to both humans and pets.
  • Advance: Let Public Safety know if an alligator comes toward you when you are walking near the water, especially if it comes out of the water.

We want to ensure that our residents and guests are always safe, and we also want to make sure that we are all doing our part to respect and protect the wonderful native wildlife habit that we are blessed with on this island.  If there is an alligator being a nuisance or showing aggressive behavior, please contact Public Safety immediately by calling 843-296-4952. 

Be Safe!  Enjoy the alligators and other wildlife at a distance and respect their habitat.


David Dew, CCM, CCE