Hilton Head -- A Bluffton man was charged Tuesday after he tried to sell an alligator for $30 he had caught near his Bluffton home -- and kept in his bathtub.
Authorities received a tip that the 47-year-old man was offering to sell a 1-year-old, 3-foot-long American alligator he had caught near his Plantation Point apartment, according to Sgt. Michael Paul Thomas of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
DNR officers and sheriff's deputies arrived in time to observe the sale, Thomas said.
"He caught it near his home the day before and was keeping it in the bathtub of his residence," Thomas said.
The man was charged with unlawful possession and sale of an alligator and with possessing an alligator out of season, both misdemeanors with fines up to $2,500 each, Thomas said.
DNR officials have made similar arrests in Beaufort County, but Thomas said the biggest problem for the local gators is people feeding the reptiles that were once endangered, but now are thriving in the Southeast.
"We would like to remind people not to feed or disturb gators," he said. "The best thing is to just leave them alone."
Residents should expect to see more gators out and about in the next few weeks as their mating season peaks, Thomas said.
The Bluffton man was released from the Beaufort County Detention Center on his own recognizance after spending the night in jail, according to the jail's log.
The gator was released back into the wild Tuesday afternoon, Thomas said.