Alligator spotted in Hope Mills Lake
Posted June 9, 2010 12:23 p.m. EDT
Updated June 9, 2010 6:54 p.m. EDT
Hope Mills, N.C. — An alligator was spotted swimming in Hope Mills Lake on Wednesday morning.
“Seems like the whole town’s been out here watching this gator all morning,” resident Alex Smingler said.
A state wildlife biologist for the region was out of the area on Wednesday, but told local officials to monitor the alligator for the next couple of days. A determination will then be made whether to remove the alligator.
“A lot of times, they’ll just leave on their own after a couple of days,” N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission wildlife biologist Thomas Padgett said.
Padgett said he will visit the lake next week. If the alligator takes up residence in the lake, Padgett said he could trap it and move it to another body of water.
Police notified all lakeside residents about the reptile, which appeared to be about 5 feet long. Signs have also been posted near the lake warning of a gator sighting.
“I don’t want to find the gator in my driveway,” resident Chari Rowell said. “I think it needs to be removed.”
Garrett Howell, 8, named the reptile Al.
“I love him,” Garrett said. “This is my favorite animal.”
The lake reopened to the public last year after a new dam was built. Heavy rains washed out the dam in 2003.
Road construction near the lake's feeder stream might have forced the gator to the lake, officials said.
“It’s quite possible the food chain was interrupted and was trying to find another place to go,” Hope Mills Fire Chief Chuck Hodges said.
Until further notice, officials have suspended swimming at Hope Mills Lake. Police said small pets should also be kept away.
Padgett said people shouldn't feed the alligator, otherwise it will want to hang around because it associates people with food.
Alligators are a protected species, and this is their natural habitat, he said.
“There’s nothing to be alarmed about. They’re a big part of our natural heritage in North Carolina,” Padgett said.