Hunters love taking to the outdoors and enjoying the rewards of a successful harvest, but some caution should be taken in consuming alligator meat. In appears alligator hunters may be exposed to mercury through the reptile’s meat. In conjunction with the limited harvest of alligators, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is issuing recommendations on the consumption of wild alligator meat.
American alligators are a long-lived species that can grow to large sizes and may accumulate significant amounts of mercury. Information on mercury in alligators harvested in South Carolina is quite limited, but their thinking is better safe than sorry. Information suggests that certain people may be at risk if consumption of alligator meat occurs.
After a reviewed of this alligator meat data, the Department of Natural Resources recommends that the general population eat no more than 1 meal per week that includes 8 ounces of alligator meat. In addition, it is pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children may be especially sensitive to the effects of mercury.
Although nursing mothers and young children will not head out alligator hunting, they should take caution when it comes to the consumption of alligator flesh. For these potentially sensitive segments of the population, they recommend that no more than 1 meal per month be consumed. This recommendation may be even more important if you are a frequent consumer of locally caught fish, which also may contain mercury.
For further information about alligators and the consumption of wild animals, contact the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Bureau of Water Division at (803) 898-4300.