A large ugly creature found floating in a South Carolina woman’s ornamental koi pond turned out to be an alligator, leading neighbors near Lake Murray to debate whether gators have migrated there from the coast.
Donna Faircloth of Chapin, South Carolina, posted a photo of the strange discovery on Facebook Jan. 2, noting she had contacted the Department of Natural Resources for an explanation. The town is 25 miles northwest of Columbia.
“I just fished this two and a half foot alligator out of my koi pond,” she wrote on Facebook. “DNR says Lake Murray does not have alligators. So can anyone tell me where it came from if not Lake Murray? This just means he crawled through our lakefront neighbors’ yards to get to my koi pond.”
The pond is fenced in and sits next to a home she has lived in for decades, she wrote.
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It’s believed the alligator was about 4 years old, and it was dead when she found it -- with a full belly. “Not sure how many koi I may be missing,” she wrote.
Faircloth told the Charlotte Observer she was initially “shocked, then amazed” at the sight.
“Since he was floating on his back, my first thoughts were he was someone’s pet iguana that had escaped,” she told the Observer, “but when I flipped him over it was apparent that he was an alligator.”
State biologists “weren’t concerned” at the discovery, and instructed her to bury the animal, she said on Facebook.
Neighbors are definitely concerned, however. South Carolina’s alligators can live 60 years old and grow longer than 13 feet, according to the state. Most stick to the coastal counties, but odd gator discoveries have been made as far north as York County, on the western North Carolina state line.
Faircloth told TV station WIS that state biologists informed her Lake Murray is too cold in the winter to sustain an alligator population.
“I do believe DNR may be incorrect,” wrote Tim Jones on Faircloth’s Facebook page.
“I may never get in the lake again!” posted Paige McClure Payne.
“It makes me think he is certainly not alone,” wrote Odette Fisher-Glover on Facebook.