ALLIGATOR LADY

Olivia Atkinson - July 15, 2020

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            I’m a 52-year-old “crazy lady.”  I’ve had many names in my lifetime, but what folks call me round here is Alligator Lady. I grew up on a dairy farm near Booger Bottom, Georgia; yep, you heard it right, Booger Bottom. My friends in college and some round here call me Miss Booger Bottom, it’s not a town but more of a place in backwoods Georgia. We don’t have gators there; however, we have got all kinds of critters. When my youngest daughter, Caroline, was asked to explain “why her Momma catches gators,” her response was, “Well, she is just like Pop, he’s not afraid of anything, not even a unicorn.” I don’t know about you, but that is a mountainous legacy to live up to.

I started catching gators 12 years ago this June. My (now ex) husband was the alligator agent for Georgetown County, he and my youngest son Mick, were under the bug truck dropping a transmission. My oldest son Justin was out in the other bug truck running a route. I was in the office with Justin’s newly wedded bride Tiff, when a “gator call” came in. It was a reasonably large gator in a culvert pipe in North Litchfield Beach; the word was folks were getting a bit too close trying to get that perfect picture. Now when these calls come in, we are contracted to get there ASAP. Since the ex was going to be under that truck for a while he said, “you can get it, you’ve seen us do it…just don’t put your hand in its mouth, take Tiff to help you, and she can call 911 if there is trouble”. I kid you not, that is just how it went. So Tiff and I, dressed in our sundresses with long bloomers, gathered the poles, nooses, and duct tape and went along our way. No need to bore you with the details of the capture, but it was textbook. I lured that gator out of the culvert pipe with some old stinky chicken backs (crab bait) an on-looking vacationer had in his golf cart. You would have thought I had done it a hundred times, when that gator came out of the pipe he grabbed those backs and threw his head back to swallow, and I slipped the noose around his neck. IT WAS ON!!!!!!!!! Pluff mud and pipe juice went flying as the gator rolled, and flipped, and flopped. I let him wear himself out, and when I figured it was safe, I handed Tiff the rope attached to the noose, and I slowly inched down on that gator pressing down on his snout and sat right down on that fella’s back, he didn’t move-a skinny girl can’t do this job. The on-lookers cheered……….. and my first gator was in the books.

Since then, I’ve caught hundreds of gators, some with assistance, some solo, but those are stories for another day. After a few years of working under the ex, DNR decided that since I caught all the gators, I should probably be the Alligator Agent. I have never gotten rich from catching these gators, so I consider it a service to my community, and the free press has served me and now Clark’s very well. I am delighted to be a part of the Clark’s Termite & Pest Control family, and would like to invite any of you to come to visit us in Murrells Inlet, and who knows, maybe we’ll get a gator call.

Rachel Lankford aka Alligator Lady

rlankford@clarkspest.com

    “Alligators, particularly large specimens that live in close proximity to human populations, may pose a threat to human safety. Such animals are deemed “nuisance alligators” and may have to be removed and destroyed. The Department has developed a program to handle nuisance alligators that is enabled under SCDNR’s regulatory authority. The nuisance alligator program is managed such that it does not threaten the long-term survival of this species in the state.” 

Excerpted from Supplemental Volume: Species of Conservation Concern SC SWAP 2015 http://dnr.sc.gov/swap/species2015.html#reptilesandamphibians