Okefenokee NWR Reminds Visitors of Alligator Safety When Visiting the Swamp

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News Release: U.S. fish & Wildlife Service
July 25, 2014

Folkston, Ga.- As the summer continues and visitors are boating, canoeing/kayaking, and fishing in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, refuge officials have noticed a dramatic increase in human/alligator interactions, primarily associated with fishing activity at the Suwannee River Sill, near Fargo. These types of interactions can be dangerous to humans and may be detrimental to alligators. Okefenokee NWR is home to approximately 12,000 alligators, and the vast prairies and waterways of the swamp provide
optimal habitat for these curious and magnificent creatures. In order to promote a safe and enjoyable visit, we ask refuge visitors to remember the following guidelines regarding alligator safety.

  • Feeding, harassing, and catching alligators is strictly prohibited and can carry a fine of
    $550. This includes throwing fish (caught by fishermen) back in the vicinity of an

  • It is the visitor’s responsibility to move away from an alligator if they are in the area.

  • If you are fishing and not retaining fish caught, DO NOT throw fish back in the vicinity of
    an alligator. The refuge recommends using a cooler and not a stringer for keeping your

  • Swimming in the Okefenokee is prohibited. If near the water, do not splash or wash off
    your hands if alligators are near. They are curious and the splashing may prompt them to

  • Dogs are not permitted in boats in the Okefenokee. If you bring your dog to the refuge, it
    must be on a lease (10-ft or less) at all times.
  • This summer, the refuge has had to remove/relocate several alligators that had become “nuisance” alligators. When this happens, the refuge contacts specially trained Nuisance Alligator Agent Trapper, Jackie Carter, who is licensed with the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to remove “nuisance” alligators. “If you see someone getting too close to an alligator or feeding it, please report them to refuge staff as soon as possible,” asks Jackie Carter. “Alligators are curious and opportunistic; don’t put yourself and others in a bad situation.” Okefenokee is requesting that if you are visiting the refuge and witness someone feeding or harassing an alligator, contact refuge personnel immediately or call the DNR hotline at 1-800-241-4113.

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