Researchers on Hilton Head Island are Tagging Alligators with GPS Trackers

17 Jul 2018

The Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Clemson University have decided to team up with a local wildlife agency to help research and track the local alligator population. The Nemours Wildlife Foundation hopes to conduct this study for the benefit of everyone living in the area including the alligator population. Together, the wildlife enthusiasts have set out to tag alligators with their own personal GPS tracking device.

This technology is expected to closely monitor the whereabouts of the animals. These actions, argues Ernie Wiggins of the Nemours Wildlife Foundation, will help researchers discover how alligators move around human populations.

These efforts can help protect both the gators and humans by minimizing the overall interactions between the two. Researchers can learn more about what encourages and discourages alligators from traversing certain areas around South Carolina.

Alligators have widely adapted to avoid areas heavily populated by humans, but residents still come into contact with these massive creatures frequently.

Each GPS tracking unit will ping the gators location every three hours for the next two years. At least five Sea Pines Alligators were tagged throughout the group’s efforts in April. One of these reptiles was estimated to be around 37-years-old. He was around 11 feet long and weighed about 250 pounds.

A video of the alligator’s release can be found on Island Packet. The team of researchers re-released the alligator back into Lake Joe after equipping him with a tracker, and they have been monitoring his movements ever since.

The group has decided to publicly share all information they discover during the reptile study. One of the goals of these efforts, according to David Henderson the director of special projects and operations for Sea Pines, is to educate locals. Residents of the area can learn more about how to discourage gators from wandering around their homes.

This ongoing study is expected to be completed around 2022. The communities involved in the program include Sea Pines, Fripp, Spring Islands and Kiawah.

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