The South Carolina state government will likely pass a new law which increases the punishment for illegally interacting with an alligator. The new bill, formally called H. 3538, comes as a response to a viral video in which patrons of a mini-golf business sat on top of a gator.
The new bill, which just needs Senate approval and the Governor’s signature, will fine people between $500 to $1,000 for “feeding, enticing, or molesting” an alligator in South Carolina. Perpetrators can also receive a 30-day jail sentence. The prior punishment for such behavior was a fine between $100 and $150.
“We don’t want anybody to hurt themselves in this state,” Rep. Bill Hixon, a North Augusta Republican, said at the hearing for the bill.
The viral video comes from a 2020 encounter in which people laid down on top of a restrained alligator that was about to be euthanized. According to South Carolina state policy, any alligators caught in public areas have to be put down; bu the video did not sit well with many animal advocates.
Many folks on social media called the video “heartbreaking” or “horrible.”
“That’s just not right,” one person even wrote on Twitter.
Messing with alligators is nothing new in that part of the country
Speaking of gators, in neighboring Florida back in December, state police were stunned to find two dead alligators in a car involved in a wreck.
Cops in Wauchula, Florida, arrested a man who allegedly admitted to slaughtering the two animals — a six-footer and an eight-footer — because the gators were “bothering him.”
The incident report suggested that the man and his friend were transporting the dead reptiles when the traffic accident occurred. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission then went to the scene of the crash to help remove the gators.
“When our officer went to assist with a vehicle accident involving two people and two alligators, he wasn’t sure what to expect,” the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission posted on Facebook at the time. “The officer immediately removed them from the vehicle and, just to be safe, then secured their mouths using electrical tape.”
The statewide recreational alligator hunting season runs from Aug. 15 through Nov. 1 each year in Florida. Recreational hunting of alligators in the state requires a permit, though; and hunters can kill them only in designated areas, according to police.
It’s unclear what charges the two men faced for their crimes; but needless to say, their situation drew the ire of police at the state level. After the traffic stop, the Florida Highway Patrol then opened an investigation. The suspects were thought to be about 17-years-old at the time of the arrest.
So what’s the moral of the two stories? Don’t mess with gators unless either trained, or absolutely necessary — in South Carolina, Florida, or any other state.