RIDGELAND, S.C. – The SC Department of Natural Resources says two people have been charged for harassment of an alligator after posting pictures to Snapchat of them forcing a baby alligator to drink beer in Jasper County.
According to SCDNR spokesperson Kyndel McConchie, Joseph Andrew Floyd Jr., 20, of Ridgeland, and Zachary Lloyd Brown, 21, of Ridgeland, face misdemeanor charges of harassing wildlife through the state’s alligator management legislation. This charge comes with a maximum fine of $300, but the judge who oversees the case will determine the men’s final punishment.
“Alligators are protected under state law and even federal law, where they are still listed as threatened solely due to their similarity of appearance to other endangered crocodilians worldwide,” SCDNR Alligator Program Coordinator Jay Butfiloski said in a press release.
There are federal protections in place to govern the harvesting of alligators for international trade, but in this case, experts say no federal protection applies.
McConchie says the incident happened Wednesday on a dirt road between Hardeeville and Tillman in Jasper County when Floyd and Brown saw the alligator crossing the road and picked it up. A press release from the SC DNR says the men admitted to pouring beer in the reptile’s mouth and posting the photos to social media. Floyd told investigators they then released the baby alligator and watched it swim away in a nearby pond.
The investigation into the matter began Thursday after people took screenshots of the photos and sent them to the SC DNR.
“Wildlife conservation is a big part of what SCDNR officers do each day,” SCDNR 1st Sgt. Earl Pope said in a press release. “This case is a good example of why we strive to educate people about wildlife in hopes that they will respect it.”
People who witness the harassment of wildlife should report the incident to 1-800-922-5431.