Officials continue search for alligator
by ELSIE HODNETT
May 06, 2010 | 6814 views |  8 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Officials are still searching for an elusive reptile that has evaded attempts at capture for two days.

The estimated 6-8 foot alligator first appeared Monday in the slough at Riverside Landing. Authorities from the Alabama Department of Conservation Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries set a limb line baited with chicken in an attempt to trap the alligator Monday night, but were unsuccessful and the animal moved out of the slough.

It was spotted Tuesday morning in the slough at River Bend Apartments, where it stayed throughout the day. Wildlife officials attempted to capture it Tuesday evening for several hours, before it disappeared again.

“Our last sighting of the alligator was late in the evening (Tuesday),” said Riverside Police Chief Rick Oliver, who was out with the wildlife officials trying to capture the alligator Tuesday evening.

Oliver said officials were searching the waterways in Riverside Wednesday in an attempt to locate the alligator.

“We are hoping someone will see it and let us know,” he said. “We don’t expect it to have gone far. We just want to get it relocated to a safer area.”

Kelli Thomas, who lives at River Bend Apartments where the alligator spent most of Tuesday, said she thought it was interesting to have an alligator in the slough near her apartment.

“It was an interesting day in Riverside,” she said. “That doesn’t happen every day.”

Thomas said she never expected to see an alligator locally, except in a zoo.

“It was a good photo op,” she said. “I took a lot of pictures, and put some of the best ones up on Facebook.”

Thomas said she became nervous once when officials were trying to capture the alligator and fish jumped close to the shoreline.

“It scared me a little because I was close to where the fish jumped,” she said. “But I plan to leave it alone, and don’t think it will bother me. I am pretty sure it wants to do its own thing, and there is plenty for it to eat out there.”

Capt. Fred Bain, District 2 supervisor for law enforcement for the Alabama Department of Conservation Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, said wildlife officers were assisted Tuesday by two nuisance animal trappers from the United States Department of Agriculture.

“They were out there a good part of the morning (Wednesday) looking for it,” he said. “But as far as I know, it had not been seen Wednesday.”

Bain said officials plan to do several boat patrols in the area over the next few days and look for the alligator.

“We don’t have the manpower to continuously search the whole lake without a better idea where it is,” he said. “As big as Logan Martin Lake is, the gator could appear 5 miles away. We are hoping someone will see it and call us.”

Bain said he does not believe the alligator has been fed by humans or has lost its fear of humans.

“It didn’t take the baited line, which it would have been more likely to do if it had been fed by humans,” he said.

Bain said it is against state law to feed or possess an alligator.

“You can’t shoot or trap or manhandle one without a permit,” he said. “And there is no open season on alligators in St. Clair or Talladega counties. You can defend yourself from immediate harm, but I don’t think it will be an issue with this alligator.”

Bain said anyone who sees an alligator should call the Alabama Department of Conservation Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries District 2 office 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday at 256-435-1642 or after hours call the game watch number at 1-800-272-4263.

Oliver said individuals may also call Central Dispatch at 205-884-3333 to report any alligator sightings.