Moving an alligator three or four miles to a reservoir isn't a piece of cake.

The snapping jaw must be taped tight.

The thrashing animal must be wrestled into a vehicle.

And the whole thing might not have been called for.

But North Charleston police were in a tough spot Tuesday - a month after a wayward alligator was shot dead outside a library in the city as horrified onlookers and public safety officers watched, a week after an alligator removal contractor was dropped from the state's call list after shooting an alligator in front of beachgoers at Folly Beach.

An alligator was spotted by a family about 7:15 p.m., lying in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant at Tanger Outlets - nowhere near a body of water and drawing a crowd. It was a good-size gator, somewhere around six feet long.

Police contacted the S.C. Department of Natural Resources about getting it removed - a process which means the gator is killed afterward.

But DNR didn't have a removal contractor closer than an hour away.

DNR wildlife biologist Sam Chappelear spoke to the officer on scene and was told the officer felt comfortable handling the alligator, Chappelear said. So DNR cleared the officer to capture the gator and release it in Goose Creek Reservoir a few miles away.

"Generally we don't have people moving animals around," said Jay Butfiloski, of DNR.

But the department occasionally allows public safety officers to relocate the animals, usually limiting it to alligators smaller than 6 feet long, depending on the situation.

"If you can get it down to the water, go ahead," Butfiloski said. "But that's not transporting animals 10 miles away."

The officer told Chappelear it was a small alligator, Chappelear said.

Asked for details about the relocation, North Charleston Police Spokesman Spencer Pryor said in an email, "The on-duty supervisor contacted DNR.

They advised they would not be coming out and was instructed to release the Alligator in to the Reservoir. Please contact DNR for any further information."

Police did not supply an exact location for the release.

Nearly all of the Goose Creek Reservoir lies in the city of Hanahan. A wedge of North Charleston runs to the reservoir bridge on N.A.D. Road.

Hanahan police were not notified of the alligator relocation, said Lt. Michael Fowler.

"No, we don't have any issue with it. "Send it back to where it came from," he said. "I certainly wouldn't want to see it destroyed, so why not put it back? If it's a small gator (the reservoir) is probably where it came from."

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