A week after residents had close encounters with alligators in both in the small town of Livingston and the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana wildlife officials issued some guidelines for gator encounters.
Rule No. 1: Don’t feed them.
“When alligators are fed by humans, they overcome their fear and natural shyness and become attracted to humans,’’ said Edmond Mouton, manager of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ alligator program.
Some other tips:
• Don’t throw fish scraps into or near water, which is essentially feeding gators (see Rule No. 1).
• Keep a safe distance of at least 50 feet when viewing or photographing gators.
• Do not allow small children to play by themselves around water bodies that may contain alligators.
• Don’t attempt to kill, harass, or move alligators. That’s against state law and a good way to be bitten.
• Don’t attempt to have an alligator as a pet. That’s also against state law. Alligators do not become tame in captivity, and handling even small ones may result in bites.
• Never go near hatchling/young alligators or pick them up. They may seem harmless, but the mother alligator may be nearby.
• Contact the LDWF nuisance alligator program to report a gator causing a public safety hazard.
The guidelines are especially timely in light of an attack earlier this month in Florida, where an alligator snatched 2-year-old Lane Graves from the shore at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Orlando, pulling him into the water of Disney World’s Seven Seas Lagoon and drowning him.