Alligator seen in Hope Mills Lake captured, moved to protected wildlife area
Posted June 22, 2010 7:30 p.m. EDT
Updated June 24, 2010 3:24 p.m. EDT
Hope Mills, N.C. — State wildlife officers on Tuesday captured an alligator that has been swimming in Hope Mills Lake for the past two weeks.
The gator was spotted at 2:30 p.m. just below the dam’s spillway. The lake drained late last week when a sinkhole developed under the dam used to create the lake.
Officials from the N.C. Wildlife Commission spend five hours trying to capture the gator.
"He was a wild gator. He was moving and evading us pretty good,” Lt. Brent Spivey of the Wildlife Resources Commission said.
Authorities closed the lake to swimmers on June 9 after the 5-foot-long gator was first spotted. Residents were warned to stay away until the gator could be caught.
"We tried several techniques that didn't work. So we decided to try to snag him with a small hook,” wildlife biologist Tom Padgett said. "The hook was just barely embedded in his skin.”
After a half-hour of reeling, the gator was pulled into the back of a pickup truck around 7 p.m.
“A little bit of luck and a whole lot of patience,” Spivey said of retrieving the gator.
It's unclear where the alligator has been in recent days, but wildlife officials said the gator likely first came over the spillway's fish ladder when the lake was still full.
The gator was transported to an undisclosed temporary location and was eventually released at the Jambbas Ranch on Tabor Church Road in the Cedar Creek community of Cumberland County. Officials had planned to take the animal to a Brunswick County preserve, but they decided against transporting it in the hot weather.
“In this heat, it (the gator) could die,” Spivey said.