There’s a reason public officials post signs in parks and wildlife areas discouraging the public from feeding wild animals: Should they get too used to humans, they may get more aggressive and act more boldly.
That’s what public officials think might have happened after a 12-foot alligator ate a woman’s 80-pound Siberian husky while walking near Mill Creek in Jacksonville, N.C.
According to WNCT-TV in Greenville, N.C., the woman and her dog—which was not on a leash—were walking near the creek around dusk Tuesday when the gator struck, devouring the dog without harming the owner. Authorities located the gator and shot it three times with a high-powered rifle, killing the massive reptile.
Check out the video from WNCT-TV.
Officials told reporters the attack shows what can happen if residents feed wild animals—such as ducks, which can gather to an area expecting an easy meal, only to become an easy meal for gators.
Residents wondered why the gator couldn’t have just been captured and relocated, but officials maintained the gator was too large to be captured, and posed a significant public safety risk.
“Nobody gains any pleasure or any enjoyment out of having to do this, but again, we have to think in terms of public safety,” said Jacksonville Police Deputy Chief Mark Traitor.
Though officials originally planned to bury the carcass, the gator will now be displayed at a local museum which is currently under construction.
“If we see these animals and can learn from them, then that makes it all that more important to care for them,” said Onslow County, N.C., spokesperson Lisa Whitman-Grice.