Balls Found In Gator's Belly

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Balls Found In Gator's Belly

Post  Carolina Kat on Thu May 24, 2012 12:47 pm

Small gator, balls found in belly of 13-foot-gator caught in SC

By Allison Stice — The (Hilton Head) Island Packet

Posted: 7:46am on May 24, 2012; Modified: 7:59am on May 24, 2012

Judging by the contents of its stomach, the 13-foot alligator snatched Monday from a lake at Jarvis Creek Park on Hilton Head Island after it snapped up a soccer ball apparently liked to eat other kinds of sports equipment, too.

The gator was captured Monday evening after dragging wranglers in a boat for more than an hour. The alligator had slipped away earlier in the afternoon in Jarvis Creek Park, but members of Critter Management, on orders from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, snagged it with baited hooks on fishing lines. It weighed at least 1,000 pounds, said Joe Maffo of Critter Management.

The crew had spent several hours Sunday and Monday afternoons trying to catch the gator after it snatched a soccer ball kicked into the water during a party for youth soccer teams.

Maffo said the gator hasn’t been fed by humans and isn’t aggressive. But nuisance laws say it must be removed from the lake and killed because of its size, he said.

“I typically don’t respond to gators with a soccer ball, because they can take it and chew on it at their leisure,” he said. “But we can’t have this big of a gator in a city park with all these children around.”

Trappers who opened the gator's stomach found 53 fishing lures, a half-pound of lead sinkers, two baseballs, one tennis ball and two other balls that were unidentifiable because they had been partially digested.

They also found a 4-foot gator.

That discovery, plus other meals that included two turtles, a beer can and 48 rocks suggest the 13-foot gator ate just about anything, said Mark Carinus, who assists Critter Management with trapping and harvesting nuisance gators.

"People don't understand that this gator could not be relocated," Carinus said. "It would eat any smaller gator. It snapped up the soccer ball at the water's edge and it could easily snatch a dog or a small child."

It's not unusual for the wranglers at Critter Management to find a gator digesting in a larger one's stomach, Carinus said. They also frequently find gators covered in teeth marks from territorial battles.

The soccer ball has been returned to the players who lost it, teeth marks and all.

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Carolina Kat

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