HILTON HEAD ISLAND - A 7-foot-long alligator was caught in the parking lot of the Walmart on Hilton Head Island late Sunday after surprising some shoppers and employees.
Walmart customer service representative Margaret Horton called Joe Maffo, president of Critter Management Inc., after noticing the reptile's head near a bike rack at the front entrance at about 10:30 p.m.
Customers gathered around the adolescent male reptile, which hissed and retreated across the parking lot to a grassy median. Three sheriff's deputies kept people away from the gator while Maffo captured it.
The alligator had to be killed according to state law because it was considered a nuisance, Maffo said.
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An alligator coming out of its lagoon this time of year is "a very unusual scenario," said Maffo.
He blamed unusually warm temperatures Sunday for the animal's appearance.
Alligators like to sun themselves, he said, but once night fell, this one was "caught between a rock and a hard place."
- The (Hilton Head) Island Packet