A Mississippi teenager was recently bitten by an alligator in a creek in South Mississippi.
According to Ricky Flynt, Alligator Program coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, two boys were at a popular recreational spot on Red Creek at MS 26 in Stone County on June 13.
A 4-foot alligator swam toward them and one of the boys was able to get out of the water, but the other, a 15-year-old from Richton, did not.
The 15-year-old attempted to fend off the alligator but was bitten on the hand in the process.
“He was taken to a hospital,” Flynt said. “There weren’t any major injuries. It was mainly puncture wounds.”
Flynt said after multiple attempts, MDWFP personnel were able to locate what is believed to be the alligator and dispatch it.
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Flynt said even though the boy was bitten, he doesn’t think the alligator approached the teens with the intent of harming them.
“I still wouldn’t call it an attack,” Flynt said. “He (the alligator) acted instinctively when he put his hands on it and it bit him.”
Instead, Flynt said the young alligator was probably looking for food.
“I can only assume people had been feeding the alligator because it is a popular area,” Flynt said. “The behavior of the alligator makes us believe people had been feeding it because it was approaching them.”
Other injuries caused by alligator encounters
In recent years there have been a number of incidents involving humans and alligators, but none have been ruled true attacks by Flynt.
In 2020, Christian Roberts of Meridian was bitten by a 9½-foot alligator while walking in tall grass. Roberts didn’t see it and stepped near the animal. He was bitten on the back of one leg and on an ankle.
Flynt said it was a matter of instinct with the alligator snapping at something that was too close. The male alligator was located by MDWFP personnel and dispatched.
Also in 2020, a Rankin County man-made incidental contact with an alligator while swimming in Ross Barnett Reservoir. The alligator swam between the man’s legs and scratched him with claws as it tried to get away.
In 2017, licensed agent alligator trapper Craig Breland was mauled by an injured 12-foot alligator while attempting to capture and remove it. That incident was not considered an attack because Breland was engaging the animal.
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What to do if an alligator approaches you
So, what do you do if an alligator approaches?
“If you’re in the water, get out,” Flynt said. “If you’re near the water, get further away.
“Get away from the water and let others know the alligator is exhibiting behavior like he’s been fed. Inform any bystanders that are there so they are aware of it.”
Flynt also asked that the alligator be reported to MDWFP.
“If people see alligators that are exhibiting this kind of behavior at public spots, we want them to report it so we can keep these types of incidents from happening,” Flynt said.
To report a nuisance alligator, call 1-800-BESMART (1-800-237-6278).