The skull of the alligator that bit off a snorkeler's arm Sunday in Lake Moultrie will be mounted and given to the victim. The meat from the alligator's carcass will be put in traps to catch other "nuisance" gators.
Bill Hedden, the 59-year-old retired Navy master chief who was attacked by the alligator, made the request in a conversation with a S.C. Department of Natural Resources officer visiting him at Medical University Hospital, where he is recovering, said Ron Russell of Gator Getter Consultants, the contractor who captured and killed the 11-foot, 10-inch, 550-pound reptile.
"From what I understand, (Hedden) expressed his interest in having the skull of the gator, so I'm going to oblige him," Russell said Wednesday.
As part of the state's removal-license regulations, Russell is free to sell or donate parts of a nuisance alligator he has taken. He also is a reserve Department of Natural Resources officer.
Russell, of Goose Creek, killed the alligator and cut into the animal Sunday to retrieve the man's arm. He said he usually donates the meat from alligators he kills to charity, but he won't be doing that in this case.
"I don't think anyone would want to eat it, if you get my drift," Russell said.
Instead, the meat will be placed in traps to catch other alligators. Russell is one of three state contractors who remove nuisance alligators for DNR.
Hedden was snorkeling Sunday at the Short Stay Navy Outdoor Recreation Area when the alligator tore his arm from his shoulder, authorities said.
Doctors were unable to reattach the arm and Hedden, of Summerville, was in listed in fair condition Wednesday.
Messages left for Hedden's family were not immediately returned Wednesday.
Normally, alligators are relatively shy and back off when they might come into contact with people. Natural Resources permits "nuisance" alligators to be removed and killed when they pose a threat.
Responding to criticism of the practice, Russell said, "When we destroy an alligator, we do it as quickly and humanely as possible. They are dead when we process them."
Reach Bo Petersen at 745-5852 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.