Kiawah Island Digest June 2020 - Page 7

resources. Kiawah averages about one mature alligator (at least six feet in length) for every three acres of pond surface area. Biologists who work with the Town of Kiawah Island and KICA monitor the island alligator population on a continuous basis and perform evaluations on alligators that are acting abnormally. Every alligator reported by members undergoes an evaluation with an island biologist. The biologists use their experience to run several tests and afterward, any alligator that demonstrates it has lost its fear of humans is euthanized. In 2019, the town formed a committee of included members, the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, town and KICA biologists, and an alligator research specialist from Clemson University to audit Kiawah’s alligator management practices. In February 2020, the committee recommended increased alligator safety and educational communications, but had no changes to the island’s management protocol. You can find the committee’s recommendations in the Quarter 1 issue of Town Notes at www.kiawahisland. org/town-notes/. The committee confirmed the alligator population is healthy and self-regulates, and any culling could disturb this balance and increase alligator issues. Following the committee’s recommendations, KICA’s biologist and resilience specialist recently developed a mapping overlay that allows the biologists to see the location of alligator signage on the island and anticipate areas where additional signage might be beneficial. Using the information provided by this program, the Lakes Management team added 49 new signs, for a total of 155 alligator safety signs throughout Kiawah Island. The signs read, “Warning: Alligators. It is illegal to feed or harass alligators. Report violations to KICA Security at 843-768-5566.” Each of Kiawah’s entities plays an important role in alligator awareness on the island, and works with its audience to promote safety. The town and KICA directly monitor the population, and determine the policies that the island puts into place. Both entities also communicate with residents and members, including guests, about the dangers of interacting with alligators. KICA’s property owner guest pass includes a printed warning on the back, and an alligator safety flyer (kica.us/ alligatorsafety) is distributed by rental agents. The Kiawah Conservancy contributes to research and puts out a wealth of information on these animals (visit KiawahConservancy.org and view the alligator safety video on their YouTube channel). The Kiawah Island Golf Resort and the Kiawah Island Club promote safety to golfers with information and signage on courses warning them to stay clear. ALLIGATORS AND YOU Alligator safety is a community commitment and it requires community member participation. If you are concerned about the behavior of an alligator, contact the town at 843-768-9166 during business hours or KICA security after-hours at 843-768-5566. All reported alligators will be evaluated by an island biologist. If there is any indication the gator is not fearful of humans, it will be euthanized. Remind your guests and neighbors to respect the alligators. If you rent your property, provide education to your renters — KICA’s alligator safety flyer is available for download at kica.us/ alligatorsafety. The safety of this community is our highest priority. KIAWAH ISLAND DIGEST | 7