Some North Augusta residents are upset after they found out gators were being killed in their neighborhood park. (WRDW-TV / July 2, 2012)
News 12 at First at Five / Monday, July 2, 2012
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Like a lot of people, David Kiser likes taking his children to Brick Pond Park for one reason -- the chance of spotting a gator.
"I've seen everything from probably about 2 and half to 3 foot to -- the biggest one we seen was probably about 9 or 9 and a half foot," he said.
But news that the City of North Augusta hired contractors to kill some of these gators has Kiser biting mad.
"Just the thought of that absolutely disgusts me," he said. "I don't tend to be a violent person, but I'd have snatched their weapons from them. You know, I'm a military veteran. It's ridiculous."
The City of North Augusta obtained two permits with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Two smaller gators had been fed by park patrons and were getting a little too close.
"We made the difficult decision to remove them from the pond system now, rather than allow them to get much larger to the point where they could potentially causes someone some harm," said North Augusta Director of Engineering and Public Works Tom Zeaser.
Zeaser says in South Carolina removing the gators usually means killing them and that's what was done here.
Maria Bussiere and her daughter watched it happen.
"What I saw the other day was cruelty, in my opinion," Bussiere said. "I had to turn away, because she was upset, and the next thing we know, they're carrying them off."
The contractors used a crossbow with a fixed line to snag them, then kill them. It's a process Zeaser admits isn't pretty. He just hopes people stop feeding them, because, as signs throughout the park make clear, a fed gator is a dead gator.
Kiser, who's been going to the park for two years, says the city shouldn't live by that motto. He says the gators that were killed were small, and he doesn't believe they were a threat. He says they should be relocated rather than killed.
The city, however, says that's hard to do. Zeaser says most of the time they just become a problem somewhere else. He just hopes people stop feeding them, because the park was built for people and wildlife to co-exist peacefully.