— When he got the call that an eight-foot alligator had been spotted in a nearby suburban area on Tuesday, North Carolina herpetologist Fred Boyce decided to lend a hand.
Instead, he almost lent his entire right arm. The 250-pound reptile nearly snapped it off when Boyce tried to subdue it. What's doubly distressing: The incident was captured on video, and it's since gone viral.
“I’m sorry this was caught on video,’’ Boyce told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie Friday. “This was really not a good example of my best work.’’
In the clip, Boyce tries to block the alligator's vision with a towel. The creature turns around to face him, snaps his powerful jaws and sends him falling backward in a ditch. The gator briefly gets ahold of his right arm before Boys gives a kick to get away. He was treated for minor injuries at nearby Carteret General Hospital, and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission eventually captured the animal and released it back into the wild.
“It was a little out of my size range to do it by myself,’’ he admitted. “I was hoping somebody else might jump on the (alligator’s) back behind me, but apparently they didn’t like that idea too much. I don’t hold that against them at all. I really wish I had had some experienced help there with me.’’
Boyce tried to use a towel in lieu of a capture pole with a noose because he said that alligators, like birds, will calm down if you cover their eyes. Though he has participated in gator round-ups previously, he admitted that trying to catch a 250-pound animal using a towel might not have been the best idea.
“I was really was not equipped,’’ he said. “ I really kind of didn’t feel good about doing this to tell you the truth.’’
The reptile was in a front yard near a busy highway near a home with small children, Boyce said. Wildlife officials were en route from Kinston, nearly two hours away, so Boyce, a herpetologist from nearby Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium, took matters into his own hands.
“I was really just expecting to take some pictures and see an alligator and maybe lend a hand if they needed one, but otherwise stay out of the way,’’ he said. “When I got there I was really surprised to hear that (wildlife officials) weren’t responding. Somebody told me that they weren’t going to come, and it was all up to us. I would rather have just left it there.’’
North Carolina biologist Robbie Norville told local television state WCTI that Boyce’s bite was just the fourth recorded alligator bite in state history. It is definitely the first to become a viral video.
“Well I obviously wasn’t thinking about the digital age that we live in and handheld video cameras,’’ Boyce said. “I wish I had been thinking more about that. I was basically thinking (that) the situation there wasn’t too good.’’