"When alligators are fed by humans they overcome their fear and natural shyness and become attracted to humans," said LDWF Alligator Program Manager Jeb Linscombe.

The high waters around the state this spring and summer have resulted in more alligator sightings. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Alligator Program warns the public not to feed them as doing so can create a potentially dangerous situation for you and others who utilize the water.

When alligators are fed by humans, they start associating people with an easy food source, bringing them in much closer proximity to people than they normally would. This can lead to increased opportunity for dangerous conflict between people and alligators. Simply put, they may see humans as source of food once they become accustomed to being fed, according LDWF experts. 

"When alligators are fed by humans they overcome their fear and natural shyness and become attracted to humans," said LDWF Alligator Program Manager Jeb Linscombe. "That is why it is so vital not to feed or entice them. We also strongly recommend to use caution when swimming at any time in areas frequented by alligators."

Always maintain a safe distance between yourself and alligators. And never offer them food, and remember that although you may not be intending to feed alligators, when you discard fish scraps into the water or attempt to feed other aquatic wildlife, you may be inadvertently feeding alligators as well.

LDWF recommends these "do's and don't’s" when coming in contact with alligators:

---Do use common sense and precautions.

---Do inform others that feeding alligators creates safety problems for those who want to use the water for recreational purposes.

---Don’t allow small children to play by themselves around water bodies that may contain alligators.

---Don’t throw fish scraps into the water or leave them on shore. Although you are not intentionally feeding alligators the end result can be the same.

---Do dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans at boat ramps or fish camps.

---Do enjoy viewing and photographing wild alligators from a safe distance.     

Per state law, it is illegal to kill, harass, molest, or attempt to move alligators.

Don't remove any alligators from their natural habitat or accept one as a pet. In addition to being illegal, the potential for being bitten or injured by a provoked alligator is high.

Alligators do not become tame in captivity and handling even small ones may result in bites. In particular, never go near hatchling/young alligators or pick them up. They may seem harmless, but the mother alligator may be nearby and may protect her young for at least two years.

Anyone experiencing problems with nuisance alligators may contact any LDWF office to make a nuisance alligator complaint.

The LDWF's Alligator Program website portal (lagatorprogram.com) provides other details on alligators, including habitat and historical data. LDWF's sustained use Alligator Program is separated into three categories: wild alligator management, alligator farming/ranching and nuisance alligators. 

For more information, go to the LDWF website alligator page or contact Jeb Linscombe at jlinscombe@wlf.la.gov.

Contributed by LDWF