South Carolina wildlife officials are investigating after five large alligators were found butchered and floating in the Ashley River outside Charleston.

Local media outlets report the bloated gators were found between Middleton and Magnolia Plantations on Sunday. Authorities say four of the gators had their tails cut off while the fifth was missing its head.

Wildlife officials say such incidents usually happen in remote areas, not along a stretch of river that is use heavily used by boaters.

Authorities say there has not been a major problem with alligator poaching in recent years.

South Carolina has issued permits for the removal of nuisance alligators for a number of years and a limited alligator hunting season was started back in 2011.