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Alligator Attack Possibly Prompted by Illegal Feeding

September 26, 2006

An Opelika man who killed an alligator after it allegedly attacked him while fishing admitted that he had been attempting to catch an alligator a few days prior to the incident. On June 23, 2006, Michael Edwards killed an 8-foot, 9-inch male alligator at Saugahatchee Lake in Opelika.

After an investigation by the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Edwards admitted that he and a friend had seen an alligator at the lake a week earlier. Edwards came back to the lake later the same day and put out steel cables with baited treble hooks in an attempt to catch the alligator. He removed the cables and hooks from the lake the next morning because he didn’t catch the alligator.

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Regulation 220-2-.97 makes it “unlawful to posses, take, capture, or kill, or attempt to possess, take, capture, or kill, any alligator.” Since Edwards admitted to attempting to catch the alligator, he was charged and pled guilty to violating that regulation. He paid a $250 fine plus court costs of $136.

According to Lt. Mike Pollard, it is possible that his baiting of the alligator caused the animal to associate Edwards with food. “Feeding alligators is against the law and can have serious consequences,” Pollard said. “When animals like this associate humans with food, they can lose their fear of people, which might lead to attacks,” he added.

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