Alligators to be relocated after dog dies in Texas neighborhood
A group of alligators living in a retention pond in an Austin, Texas neighborhood will be removed after an alleged attack on a dog, state wildlife officials have said.
Earlier this month, Austin firefighters responded to a call from a resident of the Del Valle neighborhood in the southeast of the city, saying that a trio of alligators had killed a dog, a KXAN reported on December 3.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department sent a game ranger to investigate and said they couldn’t prove there was an attack, the TV station said.
Although houses now fill the area, the neighborhood sits on what was once an alligator sanctuary, according to KXAN.
A resident who dialed 911 recalled the attack to KVUE.
“At that point, he was still screaming,” Crystal Jaime told the outlet. “But then you can hear an alligator growling.”
Jaime worries that dogs aren’t the only ones at risk.
“I just saw a group of kids the day before yesterday in the same area, catching minnows because there was a lot of water from the rain,” Jaime told KVUE. “So they’re in the same area where the dog and the alligators were. “
More recently, state wildlife officials said they plan to remove the animals from the neighborhood and place them elsewhere, according to a TPWD statement shared with McClatchy News on December 19.
State wildlife officials were initially reluctant to take action against the alligators, preferring to leave them alone, media reported.
The decision to remove the alligators comes after days of discussions with residents and leaders of the region, the statement said.
“Over the past few weeks, Texas game wardens and specialists from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) have worked closely with leaders and residents of Del Valle, listening to their concerns and sharing information about the habitat and behavior of alligators “, we can read. “For the safety of everyone involved, including wildlife, community representatives have made it clear their preference for alligators to be removed from the area and relocated.”
Officials said an “alligator specialist” would monitor the area and keep a close eye on alligators while TPWD prepares a plan of action.
It could take weeks or months before they are trapped and moved, the statement said.
Although alligators are not common in most of Texas, they are known to spread over about a third of the state, according to data from TPWD.
Populations are most dense along the Gulf Coast, from Corpus Christi to Nacogdoches and everywhere in between – but they also roam as far inland as Fort Worth, San Antonio, Laredo, and Austin – s’ stopping right next to Waco.
There has been an increase in alligator sightings and encounters in the state, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported, but that’s less of an indication of a dramatically increasing alligator population as it is of a human population in full explosion.
“It’s just that we have more people in the state now than we’ve ever had,” said Jonathan Warner, a TPWD alligator expert at the Star-Telegram.
More people means more new construction, more new housing in alligator territory. But if there is a suitable body of water in a community, alligators won’t hesitate to use it, said Houston-based alligator hunter Chris Stephens.
“Every time we build a neighborhood with a whole bunch of ponds, we’re adding alligator habitat to the ecosystem,” Stephens said. “Alligators will naturally expand into a habitat that is there for them.”