|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - August 2010
Copyright 2010 - Polk County Publishing Company
Alligator in hiding downtown
Polk County Enterprise
BY VALERIE REDDELL
LIVINGSTON — Firefighters and animal control joined forces Monday afternoon in an attempt to retrieve a small alligator from under a house near the intersection of North and East in Livingston. Ronnie Leggett and Charlie Dupree were making plumbing repairs at the residence at about 4 p.m. Monday when an alligator about two feet in length ran past them and under the house. They contacted Fire Chief Corky Cochran and he called in Animal Control Officer Melissa Blackburn and Assistant Fire Chief John Haynes. Dupree went under the house with a catchpole but was unable to spot the alligator. He did find bones of at least two small domestic animals under the house. Texas Parks and Wildlife Biologist Chris Gregory said the bones are not likely to be left behind by the alligator since they eat their prey whole. It’s more likely that stray cats or dogs are to blame for moving the bones under the house, according to Gregory. Cochran and Blackburn decided to attempt to draw the young alligator out of the house with food, but it had not been captured as of Tuesday morning. The residents have lived in the home for about 10 years and were quite surprised that the reptile would seek refuge in their well-kept yard. They remain hopeful that efforts to relocate the alligator will be successful. Blackburn said on July 12 she and reserve officer Adam Willeford turned over a threefoot alligator found inside the city limits to Texas Parks and Wildlife Biologist Chris Gregory. Gregory said given the current hot, dry weather conditions, both young alligators likely had human assistance to get downtown. “Usually when you find a gator that size in a residential area it’s because someone caught it while fishing and brought it home, then the alligator escaped,” Gregory said. Game Warden Ryan Hall added that he has seen alligators in unusual places, including the middle of a pasture. “We’ve got a lot of creeks running through Livingston, and they’re going to have some alligators somewhere,” Hall said. Texas Parks and Wildlife relocates alligators that are threatening humans, livestock or pets. “If it’s a natural habitat situation and not being aggressive, we’ll leave it alone,” Hall said. While there’s no problem with police and fire officials attempting to remove the nuisance alligator inside the city, private individuals could run into some hefty fines for catching or possessing an alligator. There are a number of Class B misdemeanor charges— each with a fine of up to $500 — that can be filed by game wardens. Depending on the situation, possession of a live alligator, hunting alligator in a closed season without a permit, no hide tag or documentation are among the potential charges, according to Hall. In Polk County, landowners can take alligators after a site inspection and evaluation by TPWD. Even if a permit is issued, alligators cannot be taken using firearms. Additional regulations on alligators can be found on the Internet at www.tpwd.state. tx.us or by calling 800-792- 1112. Report a nuisance or threatening alligator to game wardens through the Polk County Sheriff’s Office by calling 936-327-6810.