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Colder temperatures, recent rains could lead to rise in SC gator sightings

By Matt McNab

A Hilton Head-area resident submitted this photo of an alligator that caught an errant softball.
A Hilton Head-area resident submitted this photo of an alligator that caught an errant softball. The Island Packet

South Carolina Lowcountry residents may see an uptick in alligator sightings over the next few weeks thanks in part to recent rain and impending colder weather, local wranglers said Monday.

Critter Management owner Joe Maffo said alligators are on the move as summer weather winds down, heading toward the places they hibernate in colder weather.

That could gradually increase over the next few weeks, as Maffo said local waters are still warm enough for alligators to forage.

Recent heavy rain around the state also provides more freshwater for the alligators to stay in, said Cliff Boatright of Beaufort-based Tracks Wildlife Control.

If sightings have gone up, they haven’t been confined to one area and they haven’t reflected in the number of calls for service, Boatright and Maffo said. Maffo said he’s handled several calls in subdivisions near Buck Island Road recently, all to remove very small alligators from ponds.

“We haven’t received any more calls than usual this time of year,” Boatright said.

Boatright said motorists should avoid alligators that enter the roadway and should immediately call the non-emergency number for the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office — 843-524-2777 — especially for sightings on roads with fast-moving traffic, such as U.S. 278 or S.C. 170.

“You just need to avoid it,” Boatright said. “Go around it. Don’t stop and don’t take pictures of it.”

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