Alligator Spotted at a Park in Sumter

Crews are searching for the gator inside the popular Sumter attraction.

Sumter, SC (WLTX) - Park officials are on the lookout for an alligator that could be up to seven feet long at Swan Lake Iris Gardens in Sumter. 

Brock McDaniel, the Horticulturalist for the City of Sumter says the gator may have washed into the lake with the rising water from the Tropical storm on Friday.

"We don't want our birds to be food," McDaniel said.
Swan Lake Iris Garden is the only public park in the United States with all eight species of swan, which is a feast for an alligator.
"A lot of the reason why they stop here is because of all the birds on the lake," McDaniel said.
Unfortunately for these webbed foot birds, the 7-foot gator has still not been caught.
"We were out last night with a spotlight looking for their eyes, their eyes glow," McDaniel said. "If they're close to use we can use a noose to put around their neck and that'll let us get them to the shore, and we can tape their mouths for safety and move them a different location where they won't be a danger to the public." 
McDaniel says the gator has just not come close enough to the shore to be caught.
"We want to get him out as quickly as we can," McDaniel said. "When they're out on the middle of the lake it's hard to access them because if you try to get near them with a boat, they'll go under and disappear for awhile."
McDaniel says the reptile should not pose a big threat to those walking around at the park as long as you are on land.
"If you walked down into the water, that's their mode of attack," McDaniel explained, "it's more of an ambush, quick strike."
"I wasn't planning on going in the water so I could probably outrun it," laughed Amy Ray, a visitor to the park.
Ray and her son say they never expected a gator in the water when they came to the park.
"Maybe lakes in Florida, sure," Ray said. "I guess somehow when I think of Sumter I don't think of alligators."
"I lived in Florida so yea, I'm very much used to them," said Tracy Richards, another park visitor.
Richards says she is not letting the predator keep her away from her walk in the park.
"I don't really see him attacking," Richards said. "Unfortunately there's plenty of food here, so I don't think people are his main priority."
Until the gator is caught, McDaniel says people do not need to be afraid, but be aware of their surroundings.


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