Gators in Lake Waccamaw becoming bigger threat to residents

Published: Jun. 27, 2016 at 10:09 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 28, 2016 at 11:58 AM EDT
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LAKE WACCAMAW, NC (WECT) - Alligators are nothing new at Lake Waccamaw, but some residents said they're becoming a real threat.

Heather McNeill said she's lived there her whole life, and has never seen the alligators act the way they do now.

"I've been here for 27 years and there's more alligators now than there have been in the past. And they're becoming fearless," McNeill said.

She said that the growing numbers could be trouble for children and pets if people aren't careful.

"In my mother's backyard, she has a 90-pound lab, and he was in the backyard and came running up to the back door yelping and my mom opened the back door and there was an eight-foot alligator in the backyard actively trying to get to this dog," McNeill added.

McNeill has even seen people actually feed the gators, and gators are starting to see humans as a food source. With the summer season in full swing, she's worried about what that could mean for people who live here year round.

"If a tourist comes and throws something at an alligator or feeds it and then leaves and leaves it with us, it's a big issue," she said, "I don't want to see anything happen here like it did in Florida, and I'm really scared that it's going to this year because we have more alligators than we have had."

She's asking people to keep their distance from the gators.

"60 feet is about a good range to stay away from them, and you just don't tempt them, you don't harass them, you don't throw things at them and you just stay away," McNeill said.

She also added that if you see someone harassing an alligator, report it to the NC Wildlife Commission.

"If you can, get a photo of it and call the wildlife people," she said, "Make a conscious effort to solving the problem instead of just allowing it to happen."

There will be a community forum on July 19 to discuss common sense ways to coexist with alligators. The forum will be held in the fellowship hall of the Boy's and Girl's Home Chapel located off Flemington Dr in Lake Waccamaw. This forum is intended to educate people about alligators, alligator behavior, and actions you can take to avoid conflicts with alligators.

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