Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 17th, 2009
WCNC put it concisely: “No one knows for sure how the reptile ended up in Lake Hickory but the weather here is not warm enough for gators to live in.”
We last heard about this “crazy croc” that wasn’t suppose to survive the winter, way back in the spring of 2008.
Granite Falls, North Carolina, resident Len Mendat snapped this picture of a visitor napping on a log behind his back yard on Lake Hickory, on May 8, 2009. Other sightings have followed.
Ragan Robinson at the Hickory Daily Record shares the latest on the new out-of-place alligator sightings from North Carolina:
A Hickory [North Carolina] man said he spotted an alligator in the water near Lake Hickory Campground on Thursday [May 14, 2009].
It’s the second sighting in a week, and Gary Cook of Halifax Road said he doesn’t think this is the same animal.
“It kind of looked like somebody’s pet,” he said. “It was about aquarium-size.”
Granite Falls resident Len Mendat snapped pictures of what appeared to be a larger alligator Friday near his home by the lake. Last summer, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission officials studied an alligator or caiman in the lake but decided to let it be.
Cook, 60, is familiar with gators. He said he used to use a bow to hunt the creatures in Florida for the meat.
He prefers alligator tail to lobster but said he won’t be hunting the animals in Lake Hickory.
American alligators are a threatened species, which means it is illegal to kill them.
Cook isn’t too worried about the presence of an alligator.
“It can come around as long as it doesn’t bite my toe,” he said.
That’s unlikely, said Michael Juhan, a wildlife biologist for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
“As long as nobody’s been feeding them, they’re going to stay away from people,” he said. “They eat things that are the size of a toad or a frog. They’re not out looking for a 4-year-old swimming in the lake.”
His supervisor, wildlife biologist Brad Howard, took some flak earlier this week for saying an alligator in Lake Hickory does not pose a threat to humans or small pets.
Juhan said alligators that attack people or pets are normally 8 feet or longer and are used to being around people.
In photos, the animals spotted in Lake Hickory this year and last summer look smaller than that. Juhan said it is likely they were pets released into the lake when they became too much for owners to handle.
That could mean they have been around people, although Juhan said his office hasn’t gotten complaints about alligators coming into in yards or snapping at dogs.
“You can make assumptions about everything but you just have to treat them as wildlife,” Juhan said. “If they start causing problems, we’ll worry about them then.”