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Living with alligators at Moody

  • Published
  • By Wes Palmer
  • 23d Civil Engineer Squadron Environmental Element
Summer is here at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., and as the temperature cranks up, so do options for outdoor adventure on base. Nothing says summertime like enjoying a little fishing or maybe a nice picnic by a lake, Mission Lake or Grassy Pond to be precise. While Moody highly encourages the recreational use of these beautiful lakes, please be mindful of the wildlife that inhabits them.

Moody AFB is home to a vast variety of wildlife, housing almost any creature South Georgia has to offer, ranging from game animals such as deer and turkey, to far more daunting creatures like rattlesnakes and alligators. These creatures have been roaming these grounds long before the fences around Moody went up, and it is important to protect them and ensure a harmonious relationship between humans and wildlife to include alligators.

You can do your part to protect these animals and yourself this summer by abiding by all state and federal laws and by practicing a little common sense. While there is no need to be terrified of alligators, a healthy fear can ensure safety. After all, alligators have a natural fear of humans.

When it comes to alligators, it is illegal to feed them. Feeding, baiting or even leaving food items in the vicinity where alligators are known to frequent is a misdemeanor and is punishable by fines up to $200.

It is extremely important to abide by this law for a number of reasons. First, it is important to remember alligators are wild creatures, just about as wild as they get. These reptiles have been hunting and feeding themselves long before humans created processed cheese squares and white bread to throw to them and they do not need any help from humans to stay well fed.

Furthermore, the feeding of alligators by humans becomes problematic because it conditions them to flock to humans like a puppy looking for a treat. This may sound like a neat trick to some folks, but it is unnatural and dangerous for humans and alligators to interact in such a way.

Even if there may not be any immediate danger by feeding an alligator, doing so may be putting a future fisherman, picnicker, or child at risk by training the alligator to actively pursue and approach humans.

Be sure to keep a watchful eye on children and pets when on or near the lake. While pets and children are not a link in the natural food chain for alligators, unfortunately and on very rare occasions, those lines have been crossed. When it does happen, the results can be extremely sad and in many cases fatal.

Swimming or wading in Mission Lake or Grassy Pond is not permitted and will greatly increase the risk of contact with an alligator. With the proper permits, fishing on either lake is highly encouraged and made available for military personnel and their families.

When fishing with live or dead bait please be sure to discard the leftovers or scraps in a trash can with a secure lid on it. After all, simply leaving food or bait out and easily accessible to an alligator is considered illegal and could ruin an entire fishing trip.

As you embark on your summer adventures on and around the lake's Moody has made available for leisure, please keep these few points in mind to ensure the safety of visitors and wildlife. Alligators are a natural and important part of our Moody AFB ecosystem.

· Feeding, baiting or even leaving food out for alligators is illegal, and violators will be prosecuted.
· Swimming or wading in either Mission Lake or Grassy Pond is not permitted and can put you and others in immediate danger.
· When fishing with live or dead bait, be sure to discard the leftovers or scraps in a secure trash can with a lid.
· Keep a watchful eye on small children and pets around the water's edge.
· Abide by all state and federal laws, and practice common sense.
· Enjoy yourself! After all these lakes are here for you!

For more information on alligators or any of our region's natural resources, please contact the Moody AFB Environmental Element at 229-257-5881.