With summer here, people begin partaking in more outdoor activities. Wide varieties of animals also migrate or come out of their winter slumber to enjoy the warm, welcoming weather. While breathing in the fresh air on a midday run, nature’s critters can bring a sense of harmony between one and the environment. But when a runner spots an eight-foot long alligator basking in the sun, the sense of harmony may be questionable to someone who has never seen a ‘gator.
Martin Korenek, a biologist with the Land and Wildlife Resources Section, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s Environment Management Division, said he understands the concern about the alligators inhabiting the waterways in the area.
A larger than average reptile with sharp teeth and rugged scales has an intimidating appearance, but patrons living in areas near these animals have no need to fear them as long as they’re watched from a safe distance. Chain-linked fences surrounding storm water ponds also keep alligators from straying into residential areas where they can be a threat.
Mere observations of these animals are not considered a threat, noted Korenek.
If an alligator is found in a location where it was a threat to people or pets, EMD staff will not hesitate to catch, remove and relocate the animal to a remote area, ensuring the safety of the patrons.
“Alligators are very common throughout Camp Lejeune, coastal North Carolina and much of the southeastern United States,” said Korenek. “On base, they are frequently seen in storm water ponds and basking along the shorelines.”
Alligators are protected by state and federal law, and there are strict regulations against feeding and harassing them, noted Korenek. The American alligator is listed as threatened in North Carolina by the Unites States Fish and Wildlife Service, and under state law, it is illegal to feed them in the wild.
“Feeding them will acclimate them to human activity,” added Korenek. “If one of these animals loses fear of humans from constant exposure, it (may) lead to problems. (We) encourage residents to enjoy the alligator from a distance.”
To contact EMD, call 451-5003.