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      Alligator visits South Litchfield Beach

      Photo courtesy of Nancy Crawford, of Pawleys Island

      A three-foot long alligator was found on the beach in South Litchfield Tuesday morning by a volunteer looking for sea turtle nests.

      Nancy Crawford, of Pawleys Island, walks the beaches many mornings, looking for evidence of sea turtle nests so they can be protected or relocated by SCUTE, the South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts.

      But Tuesday morning she came upon an alligator instead.

      Crawford called the Department of Natural Resources, which sent a contractor, Rachel Lankford of Carolina Exterminators, to lasso and remove the gator.

      It's a task that's kept her company busy lately.

      "This summer, we've already had five calls for alligators on the beach," Lankford said.

      In eight years of catching alligators for the DNR, Lankford says they've never before seen this many on the beach.

      "My son made the comment that it could be they want to get a tan," Lankford laughs.

      Jokes aside, she says it's probably because of high water in nearby streams. Young gators get swept up in the swift current and find themselves dumped on the beach, where they don't want to be.

      State law requires that nuisance alligators have to be picked up and destroyed, but small alligators found among the dunes aren't much of a nuisance, so Lankford says they will simply be picked up and moved to a better home.

      "We usually go out on the Waccamaw River, somewhere deep up in the creek where there aren't any people and turn them loose."

      Crawford wasn't really scared by her alligator encounter.

      "No, I was excited about it to take pictures."

      She even got to hold it after its snout was taped shut.

      But her advice to others who might find one on the beach is to leave it alone, keep pets away and call the DNR.