Local News

Hoke County Residents Anxiously Await Return Of Big Gator

Posted May 30, 2003

— An unruly and unwelcome alligator that stumbled into a neighborhood in Hoke County this week eventually was chased off by residents.

Friday, they were wondering if that was such a good idea.

At the time, blasting the gator with a powerful blast of water from a hose seemed like the best way to get rid of it. Authorities were out of options. The Wildlife Commission wasn't there, and time was running out.

It was getting dark. The crowd was growing, and the giant alligator was getting increasingly hostile.

"He stood up and walked across the road," Kirk Lowery said, "and he was huge.""

Lowery caught the encounter on tape. Firefighters chased the 10-foot beast toward the water, pushing it across the road with the blasts from a hose. But the gator didn't go without a fight.

As Lowery watched the action through his camera, he thought about his daughters. He said Friday he's worried the gator will be back.

"I don't know if there's more or just one, " Lowery said, "or if it's just coincidence that he came out. I don't know; I'm not an expert."

But even experts don't know where the alligator is or what it's going to do.

A wildlife biologist said that, after all, it's a wild animal. It's unpredictable.

"Anything could happen," said Katie Pipken of the Wildlife Commission. "It might decide that that experience was so traumatic, it would prefer to move on. But it might be a very bold animal and decide that when things calm down, the people go away, and it will come right back out."

All neighbors can do is wait, watch, and see.

"That's the biggest thing, not knowing about the risks of an alligator," Lowery said, "because the way he looked on film, he's not friendly."

Lowery asked the Wildlife Commission to look for the alligator and remove it. The commission said it probably won't investigate unless the gator is spotted again.

Alligators aren't rare in North Carolina. But they are in Hoke County. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, alligators have been reported in 12 counties in the past 20 years -- but never in Hoke County until now.

While the creature Lowery videotaped was big, it's not the biggest in North Carolina. Back in 1981, a 12-foot, seven-inch gator was found in Carteret County.


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