Imagine losing your hand to an alligator bite and then facing criminal charges because of it.
That is just what happened to a Florida man. Wallace Weatherholt lost his right hand after illegally feeding an alligator, according to USA Today.
Weatherholt, 63, was working as an airboat captain for Captain Doug’s Small Airport Tours in Everglades City when he dangled a fish at the surface of the water during a June 12 tour. The 9-foot alligator lunged at Weatherholt before biting off the man’s right hand at the wrist.
The alligator bite caused Weatherholt to lose his hand. Weatherholt’s hand was found in the alligator’s stomach, but doctors were unable to reattach it.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) officials investigated whether Weatherholt provoked the alligator bite by feeding the animal a fish. Six weeks after the attack, Weatherholt was arrested and charged with a second-degree misdemeanor offense of feeding an alligator.
FWC officer Jorge Pino said in a statement, “It’s a very sad situation for Mr. Weatherholt, and we wish this never happened to him, but there are laws on the books to protect people from this exact incident.” Pino said the law against the feeding of alligators is designed to protect the alligators and the humans. Essentially, when alligators are fed, they lose their fear of humans and can become very dangerous, according to Pino. When the alligator becomes a threat to humans, it must be put down.
“As soon as you say there’s an alligator that’s not afraid of humans, that’ like signing a death warrant for that alligator,” Pino said. “The more people abide by the rule on the books, the safer the gators will be, and more importantly, the safer the humans will be, “ Pino concluded.
The FWC was able to charge Weatherholt after receiving “photographic and physical evidence,” investigators stated. Weatherholt was released from jail after posting a $1,000 bail. If convicted, Weatherholt faces a fine of up to $500 and a possible jail sentence. Weatherholt is due back in court on Aug. 22.
Alligator Laws in South Carolina
South Carolina is home to large amounts of coastlands, rivers and lakes. The large amount of waterways in South Carolina leads to an influx of alligators. In South Carolina is illegal to feed alligators or to entice them with food. If you are convicted of feeding an alligator in South Carolina, you may face a $200 fine and up to 30 days in prison. It is also illegal in South Carolina to harass or harm an alligator in any way. This includes throwing rocks, sticks or any other object at an alligator. If you are found guilty of harassing an alligator, you may face a $5,000 fine and one year in prison.
If you or a loved one has been charged with feeding an alligator or any other criminal offense, you need to contact a South Carolina criminal defense lawyer. The South Carolina criminal defense lawyer at the Strom Law Firm will fight for a beneficial outcome. Call us today for a free consultation. 803.252.4800.