Local News

Alligators make themselves at home in state

Posted July 2, 2008 5:47 p.m. EDT
Updated July 2, 2008 6:35 p.m. EDT

— Alligators seem to be making themselves home in some unlikely places.

Last month a four to five foot long gator was seen lounging on a log beneath the Cliffdale Road bridge in Fayetteville. A couple weeks later, an eight-foot gator was seen in a creek north of Lillington.

“From my indications, they are becoming more plentiful,” Fayetteville Park Ranger J. Neil McMillan said.

McMillan works at Clark Park, where two baby alligators live behind glass.

Alligators were removed from the federal endangered species list in 1987 after 20 years on the list.

Gators are native to the state’s coastal plain, but it’s possible to find them as far inland as Fayetteville and Lillington, wildlife officials said. Alligators often migrate up the Cape Fear River, wandering into feeder creeks.

“I wouldn’t be worried too much about running across an alligator around here, not in your local ponds or creeks,” McMillan said.

Alligators tend to avoid humans, McMillan said.

“Like most wildlife, if you leave it alone, it pretty much leaves you alone,” he said.

The biggest alligator ever caught in North Carolina was 12 feet, 7 inches long. Wildlife officials say Brunswick and Columbus counties have the highest populations of alligators.

Wildlife watchers said more sightings are likely in the state.

“With the human population increasing, our large predators like that, unfortunately, are losing their habitat and place to live,” said Rebecca Montaldo, Clark Park’s ranger coordinator.

Wildlife officials say it is very rare to come across an alligator in the Sandhills or Piedmont.