|Corrigan Times - Local News
Copyright 2013 - Polk County Publishing Company
An unexpected guest shows up for Father's Day
LIVINGSTON -- A Father's Day family gathering took a surprising turn when an unexpected guest showed up near Jerry and Deborah Swindle's boat dock at Cedar Point Sunday afternoon. Four of the couple's grandchildren were swimming in the lake in about four feet of water when they saw an alligator they estimated to be around 10 feet long swim near them. The frightened children, ages 12, 9, 4 and 3, reported the sighting to Jerry. He went down to take a look. Initially, he couldn't fi nd the alligator. Swindle thought they must have seen a log or some other fl oating object and their imagination got the best of them. He must have convinced the young swimmers too, because they got back in the water. There were several adults onshore barbecuing, including Swindle's son with the youngest grandchild who will be a year old in August. "He had been out there swimming with his dad on a fl oat," Swindle said. "Then I had positioned myself where I could see really good on beach area for 50 or 100 feet and I watched the kids playing. Then I saw the gator's head pop out." After the second sighting, the family re-enacted a scene from the movie "Jaws" and cleared out of the water in a hurry. They went to the Internet and found a phone number for the game warden. After attempting to call an animal control offi cer, someone suggested calling the sheriff's offi ce, but Swindle didn't really think it was a problem that required police. Finally he contacted the security guard at Cedar Point who contacted a game warden through the sheriff's department, but from the conversation, Swindle didn't think anyone was coming. "We called three times but decided nobody was going to come, so I sat on a log with a rifl e to see if the big alligator was going to come up," Swindle said. That activity will get a game warden to make a house call. Swindle says he took a shot and missed the fi rst time he saw the alligator surface. He fl agged down people who were towing their friends around the lake on a personal watercraft. "The alligator wouldn't leave," Swindle said. "It swam out a little ways and turned around and came right back." He took another shot. Swindle said after that shot the gator "turned around so fast I could see the white of his belly." Some alligator experts also describe that as a death roll. The alligator didn't surface again. Game Wardens Brandon Mosley and David Johnson responded to Cedar Point and issued two citations for discharging a fi rearm over open water and hunting out of season, according to Swindle. Mosley declined comment on specifi cs of the pending case, but offered general advice on alligators. "Lake Livingston is a public waterway, and that's their natural habitat," Mosley said. "We can't remove alligators from Lake Livingston or any of its tributaries like Kickapoo Creek, White Rock Creek — they belong there. If you feel threatened in any way, you need to remove yourself from the situation. That alligator is probably going to pass on by." "In a private pond, on private property, you can go on our website (www.tpwd.state. tx.us), and call the Houston communications offi ce and get a report number to contact a nuisance alligator hunter. It's all explained on our website," Mosley said. The game warden added that the TPWD website also has information on the history, laws and regulations on alligators. He encourages everyone to go there and become familiar with that information. "Alligators are a fi xture on East Texas lakes, but there are things you can do so that you don't attract them," Mosley said. "Don't feed them, don't leave fi sh scraps out at the end of your boat dock. They're like vultures. They'll eat anything, so if you are attracting them to your dock or your house they will lose their fear of humans. Don't feed them. Stay clear of them."