(CBS Local) — Authorities in South Carolina are looking for the people who harassed an 11-foot alligator at an island resort. The suspects, who threw carrots at the beast’s head, are now facing a stiff fine for each object thrown at the gator.
In a Facebook post by Fripp Island Activity Center, the alligator is photographed with a carrot stuck to the side of its head and other carrots laying near it after tourists allegedly harassed the animal. Workers at the Fripp Island resort called the incident — which luckily did not result in the gator attacking anyone — “a new level of stupid.”
“This gator could have interpreted the tossed items as food and learned people are a source of food,” Fripp Island naturalist Jessica Miller told The Charlotte Observer. “Once that behavior is observed, the gator has to be caught and put down before that nuisance behavior turns into an attack on a person.”
Authorities in Beaufort County reportedly have a description of the carrot throwers and are ready to hand out a $200 fine for each carrot tossed at the dangerous beast. The suspects also face up to 30 days in jail for violating the state’s laws protecting alligators. “The closer people get to him, the more habituated he will get to them and it will become more likely that this gator acts out of defense,” Miller added.
Alligator attacks are not uncommon, especially in states like Florida, where several people have been injured or killed in recent years. “These animals are really simple. They like to be in their water or bask right by it. We just need to stay back,” Miller warns.