13-foot gator evades capture at Jarvis Creek Park

astice@islandpacket.comMay 20, 2012 

A 13-foot gator with a soccer ball in its mouth Saturday at Jarvis Creek Park has let go of the ball but is resisting capture, said Critter Management's Joe Maffo.

At about 6 p.m. Sunday, Maffo was in a boat in the lagoon at the park with hooks in what he believes might be the gator under the surface. However, "nothing is happening," Maffo said.

"He's really tough," Maffo said. "We're at a stalemate."

Onlookers reported the large male gator grabbed the soccer ball after the ball rolled into the water at about noon Saturday during a team picnic held by Lower Coastal Sports Academy. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources dispatched Maffo to remove the gator because of its size.

"He's really big and we can't have him here in this lake with all these children around," Maffo said. "There were more than 200 kids here (Saturday) at a party."

When the gator came up to the shore Sunday, Maffo and a partner managed to get hooks in the creature, which then spit out the soccer ball.

Then the gator took a dive, leaving the two men to wait him out.

Eventually, Maffo said, the gator wrapped itself around some underwater debris and escaped from the hooks.

Maffo and his crew rebaited their hooks and headed back out onto the water to see if they can snare the gator again, but the gator again broke their lines and escaped, and the Critter Management team had to suspend its efforts because of the falling darkness.

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