Wild Kingdom at Belle Isle

Belle Isle is blessed with an abundance of wildlife. We should remember that sometimes it is dangerous to get too close.

Belle Isle is blessed with an abundance of wildlife. We should remember that sometimes it is dangerous to get too close.

Remember Marlon Perkins and Jim Fowler and the popular television show sponsored by Mutual of Omaha, Wild Kingdom? They taught us much about the reality of the wildlife here in the U.S. and other countries around the world.

In late September, the reality of living at beautiful Belle Isle in close proximity to sometimes dangerous wildlife resulted in the need to remove a mature alligator from the gator nesting area behind Regime III and adjacent to Regime II. Throughout the summer, Manager Bill Duncan had observed on his own and received member comments about the frequency of seeing large alligators on the banks of the lake in the area where members frequently walk dogs, some leashed and some often off-leash. The determination was made that these large alligators are a nuisance.

Marlon and Jim would probably remind us that, generally speaking, alligators avoid contact with humans but have also been known to be aggressive and are surprisingly fast on land. Persistent sightings meant a 10’ as well as an estimated 12’ alligator had become quite comfortable with their habitat proximity to our community. A professional alligator hunter was called in during the summer and the search began, with crafty avoidance by these gators.

Earlier this week, the 10’ alligator was removed by Andy Ard and his son, with assistance from Bill Duncan, Brenda Coleman (watcher supreme on stake-out from her deck) and other members over the past several months. The safety of residents and their guests and pets was likely improved. Belle Isle Yacht Club was issued two DNR tags for the legal elimination of alligators deemed to be a nuisance. Given the substantial number of alligators in the nesting area whose eyes were seen at night when searching for this mature alligator, the impact to the gator population of this particular gator removal was minimal. We may face another removal for the large alligator sighted in the lakes and on the banks at the marina and behind Regime 10 and Regime 1, and possibly for the 12’ gator in the nesting area.

Andy Ard has completed several tasks at Belle Isle and our Board of Stewards thinks of him as our own Renaissance man. He has mowed the spoils area and will be excavating the spoils area as soon as we receive word that our permit to dredge is approved (fingers crossed). In addition, he will be preparing the sites along the bay where the dredge pipeline will be placed on grade. The extensive and comprehensive response to the latest comment period objections (preparation overseen and reviewed by Ed Foster and Lonnie Jones) has been submitted to DHEC/OCRM and we now anxiously await a positive outcome. Stay tuned and stay positive!