Concerned bystanders called police after sighting the alligator on Tuesday, according to Charleston Animal Control Supervisor Courtney Bayles. The 6ft reptile was spotted walking on roads and through residents’ yards before heading to elementary school.
“Our concern always when responding to an alligator call is what are the threats to public safety?” Bayles told CNN. “We don’t want there to be harm to the alligator, we don’t want there to be harm to people.”
Bayles noted that when possible, officers will guide alligators to the nearest pond. But in this case, there was no pond in the immediate vicinity. His team therefore captured the reptile, loaded it onto their truck and took it to a pond further down the road.
Video posted to the Charleston City Police Department’s Facebook shows Bayles and another officer jumping onto the alligator’s back and taping its mouth shut. Bayles told CNN that these captures require careful maneuvering to ensure no one is hurt.
Officers responding to alligator calls have to “pay attention to the teeth and the tail – the tail sometimes causes more injuries because we forget about the teeth, but the tail is super powerful,” she explained.
According to Bayles, early spring and summer are prime times for alligator encounters. That’s because it’s animal mating season, so “males go in search of females, moving to different ponds.”
“They’re confused,” she said. “We have built neighborhoods all around their environment, their habitat.”
During this time of year, their department receives up to one alligator-related call a day, Bayles said. They prioritize relocating alligators to isolated areas “so they can live in peace with as little harassment and interaction with people as possible.”
Commenting on the attention the video of her team capturing the alligator received, Bayles told CNN she “loved the opportunity to talk to people and raise awareness that we have to co-exist with these guys.” .
“We have to share the land,” she said. “I loved the opportunity to educate.”
The department also praised staff’s response to the stray alligator.