While alligator sightings are not uncommon around these parts, you rarely hear of anyone being the victim of an attack. If you respect an alligator’s territory, chances are no parts of you will become his next meal. But if you disregard the creature’s need for personal space, well, you might not be so lucky.
In a study titled “Alligator Attacks on Humans in the United States,” compiled by Dr. Ricky L. Langley, a medical epidemiologist with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, about five years ago, there was one alligator attack listed in the Tar Heel State. The incident happened in 2001 in Onslow County and involved alcohol and “fooling around with an alligator,” Langley said. The victim’s arm was bitten but it was not life-threatening, he added.
The statistics for North Carolina go back to the early 1990s. Since the study’s completion, there has been another attack right here in Wilmington at Greenfield Lake. In July 2005, a man inexplicably jumped into the lake when an alligator made a beeline for him. But for reasons even more mysterious than why the man jumped into the water to begin with, the alligator gave him a reprieve and released his grip on the victim. His injuries were not life-threatening.
But alligators are capable of causing serious harm and even death, as evidenced by the 334 attacks and 14 fatalities documented in Florida during the study. The bottom line: While the chances of being mauled or killed by the reptile are very slim here, don’t necessarily count on that gator to say “later” if you find yourself in his lair.
Date posted: August 18, 2009
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