A Bluffton woman who threw a pine cone at an alligator she thought might become a threat to her dog apparently managed to toss her $8,000 wedding ring away in the process, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office report.
The woman was walking the dog near a pond in her Belfair Plantation neighborhood when she noticed "a giant alligator," according to the report made Tuesday. Concerned the alligator might be interested in a dog-sized snack, the woman told deputies she picked up a pine cone and threw it at the alligator "to ensure that it would not attack herself or her dog."
In the process, her white gold, marquise diamond ring flew off her finger, according to the report. She said she has searched for about two weeks, but the ring still hasn't been found.
The pine cone toss is the opposite of what the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources advises.
"Throwing a pine cone at an alligator is a terrible idea," DNR spokesman David Lucas said on Wednesday. "The best thing to do is to turn around and walk the other way. ... Do not throw stuff at an alligator."
Lucas said throwing anything will likely bring the animal gator closer instead of scaring it away. The animal may think you're offering it something to eat — especially if it's near water and the thrown object makes a splash. The gator could start to associate humans with food and could venture too close for comfort.
"In the Lowcountry of South Carolina, spotting an alligator where it's supposed to be is a common occurrence," Lucas said.
Unless an alligator is aggressive or otherwise posing some kind of threat, there's no need to call DNR or have it relocated, he said. Large or small, if the creature is simply living its life, there's no cause for concern.
According to the Sheriff's Office report, the woman contacted DNR to have the alligator removed from the pond. Since the date of the incident was not included in the report, Lucas could not confirm that DNR was involved in a removal or that the animal was in fact removed.
Lucas said that in private or gated communities, owners' associations often get a DNR permit to remove an alligator and hire a third party to safely relocate the animal. A Belfair POA spokesperson could not immediately be reached to confirm the gator's removal.