LAKE HARTWELL, S.C. ó

If you haven't seen the post about a huge alligator on Lake Harwell on social media, you may have heard about it.

It's not real. The man who posted it said it was a joke that went too far.

But it brought up many questions about alligators in our part of South Carolina.

We reached out to the Department of Natural Resources with some questions.

Was DNR made aware of the social media picture?
Greg Lucas, a conservation educator at the state Department of Natural Resources, said DNR was made aware of the post on Facebook. He said a game warden at the Clemson office saw the photo and quickly realized the sand was too white for the Upstate, indicating that the photo was from the coastal area of the Lowcountry and "not from Red Clay Upstate."

Also, the alligator in the photo was tremendous, in the 10 to 12 foot range. An alligator doesnít grow to that size overnight! If we had an alligator that size in Lake Hartwell, someone would have seen it by now. Alligators will not typically survive the harsh winters of the Upstate. They are reptiles and donít do well in cold water, and thatís why they thrive in the warm waters of the Lowcountry.

"Also, the alligator in the photo was tremendous, in the 10 to 12 foot range," Lucas said. "An alligator doesnít grow to that size overnight! If we had an alligator that size in Lake Hartwell, someone would have seen it by now. Alligators will not typically survive the harsh winters of the Upstate. They are reptiles, donít do well in cold water, and thatís why they thrive in the warm waters of the Lowcountry."

Have you seen these types of hoaxes before?
Lucas said hoaxes like this pop up every few years.

Could an alligator be found in Lake Harwell?
Lucas said American alligators have, from time to time, been found in some of our Upstate reservoirs, such as Hartwell.

He said, when it happens, it means someone has removed them from the Lowcountry and kept them as pets. By the way, it's illegal to have a pet alligator in South Carolina, Lucas said.

He said, when the alligator has grown larger, they were probably released into a reservoir.

"Thatís not good for the alligator, because it likely wonít survive the winter, and it sure scares Upstate residents, who donít expect to see alligators up here," Lucas said.

Lucas called releasing an alligator in a reservoir a "death sentence." He called it an "irresponsible and cruel act."

He said alligators donít do well in cold waters. Since alligators are not supposed to be here in the Upstate, it also frightens Upstate boaters or lake visitors when they see an alligator.

By nature, American alligators are not aggressive animals and small alligators are no danger to humans, Lucas said.

Where is the closest alligator habitat to Lake Harwell?
Lucas said the American alligator habitat line is the Fall Line Sandhills region. He said thatís the geographic region in between the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. It runs through South Carolina, roughly diagonally through the state following U.S. Route 1 and Interstate 20, passing through Camden and Aiken. Itís also the habitat line for the venomous cottonmouth water moccasin snake. You can find alligators and cottonmouths east and south of this line, but not above it.

Lucas said most of the American alligators in South Carolina are found concentrated in the Coastal Zone (the counties that touch the Atlantic Ocean), but they are also found throughout the Coastal Plain.

Alligators are freshwater animals. They are not saltwater creatures, although rarely you will see a photo of one that has mistakenly found its way to the ocean. Freshwater swamps are their natural habitat.

https://www.wyff4.com/article/lake-h...-hoax/39825609