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Love is in the air and alligators are everywhere

As alligator mating season blooms, an ever increasing number of the reptiles is ending up on front porches, in swimming pools and in backyards of Beaufort County homes.

More than 11 alligators have been captured in the county since Friday afternoon, Critter Management owner Joe Maffo said Sunday evening, including a 10-foot female found Saturday night wandering around a Hilton Head Island retirement community. Two Hilton Head gators were captured Sunday afternoon. Both were relatively small, Maffo said.

"Their hormones are raging right now," Maffo said. "They're really coming out like I've never seen before."

Many alligators will return to their last mating spot to rekindle a romance, but due to development many of those places have been paved or built upon. Maffo didn't have statistics on the number of alligators he's captured this year, but said it's up from previous mating seasons.

Mating begins in early March when waters warm, and generally subsides by July, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

For the most part, Maffo said, alligators will leave people alone, but if you feel threatened by a gator or have one show up unexpectedly on a doorstep, call 911. For safety's sake, don't approach a gator, he said, and don't try to capture it.

While attacks on people are rare, alligators still can cause major problems for humans.

A 47-year-old Savannah man was killed May 8 after swerving to miss an alligator lying across S.C. 170 in Jasper County. He lost control of his car and collided with an oncoming Greyhound bus.

South Carolina has instituted a hunting season for alligators, which this year will be Sept. 12 through Oct. 10.

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