There’s one specific, underlying reason why gator attacks are so rare. You have to behave pretty irresponsibly to provoke an attack, according to wildlife experts.
According to DNR wildlife biologist Dean Harrigal, things that have led to attacks include people swimming in lakes clearly marked as having alligators and attempting to retrieve golf balls from within 2 feet of a gator’s snout.
People have also provoked gators by poking them with sticks. Feeding alligators can lead them to eventually attack. It is never a good idea, as it makes them more comfortable approaching humans and trains them to think of us as a food source.
This is ultimately bad for the gator, since once it tries to attack, it is removed.
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“A fed gator is a dead gator,” said Joe Maffo, owner of Critter Management in Hilton Head Island.
Alligators are generally afraid of people and, if not fed, will beat a hasty retreat if one is near, Maffo said. If you hear an alligator hissing, that is an indicator that they may be about to attack.
As a rule of thumb, give them a wide berth. Leave them be and they will return the favor.