If your construction crew will be doing work in any coastal state from North Carolina to Texas, or in the states of Arkansas or Oklahoma, be prepared to deal with alligators. Although they are normally found in these 10 states, they are also occasionally found well outside of their range, including in states as far north as Pennsylvania.
In true gator territory along the Southeast United States, wherever you find a body of fresh water you can expect to find gators. The entire state of Florida is an alligator's dream.
Here's how to protect your crew from alligators on the job site:
Educate your staff and visitors
Have a safety briefing with all of your staff prior to working in areas where there may be alligators. Your staff should understand the rules when in the gators' territory. These rules include never approaching, feeding or trying to subdue alligators. If alligators have been sighted on or near the job site, signs should be posted to warn visitors to take precautions and remain alert.
Alligators are very sneaky, and victims of their attacks often claim they never saw the gator until they were bitten. You should stay at least 15 feet from a gator, and farther away is better, because alligators can lunge, run up to 35 miles per hour in a short burst, and will defend their nests very viciously.
Spring and early summer are prime times for alligator aggression. These are the months when they are breeding and nesting. Most attacks happen with alligators over 6 feet in length, but you shouldn't mess with juvenile alligators either, since Mama Gator may be nearby and more than ready to defend her scaly little reptile babies.
Exclude the alligators as much as possible
Alligators are a protected species, so you can't hunt, bait or kill them. Of course, you may defend yourself and your crew from a gator attack, but the best plan is to try to exclude the creature from your working area altogether. This can be accomplished with a very tall fence around your entire property with a height of at least 5 feet and a topper that extends outward to deter climbing (yes, alligators have been known to stick their claws in chain link sections and shimmy over fences).
A tall, smooth-sided aluminum fence may be an even better option to deter gators, because they won't be able to climb the sides. Aluminum fence panels that have vertical balusters are another option and are also crawl-proof.
Alligators may also burrow and destroy any construction dykes or drainage areas. Make sure fences are buried a bit if this is a possibility. You can head off alligators moving from a smaller nearby water source by adding temporary wooden or concrete bulkheads along the shore, but they should extend at least 3 feet above the high water mark to keep gators from slipping over.
Don't try to wrestle any gators yourself
Most attacks occur near the water's edge in lakes, ponds, lagoons and rivers, because this is where the alligators feed and nest. When you approach a partially submerged alligator, it should try to lower itself and hide from you. If it doesn't, you might have an overly aggressive alligator on your hands, or you may be dealing with one that has become too familiar with humans. On land, alligators will stand and face you defending their ground, and they may vocalize to threaten you.
Most alligators are not aggressive, and they don't view humans as a food source under normal situations. They will eat pets, so keep any dogs or cats away from the job site or in a secure spot. You definitely should get help if an alligator shows up on your job site. Don't try to handle the intruder on your own. A wildlife expert should be contacted, and their number should be prominently displayed at the job site where your crew can easily find it in case of just such an emergency.
Fence companies, like Fence-It, who operate in areas where alligators are located should have tried-and-true products you can rent or buy. Ask for their advice when securing your construction site to be sure you don't get a toothy surprise while you're on the job site.