A mite too neighborly

Published 11:36 am Thursday, October 27, 2016

Nederland residents were greeted with an unexpected visitor from the canal Wednesday morning as they went about their business.

In the late morning, an alligator emerged from the canal of the Lower Neches Valley Authority and proceeded to sun itself on a bank near the intersection of Spurlock Road and Edgemont Lane.

Its presence was a source of contention and concern among some of the neighbors.

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“I pick up my daughter from elementary and I see kids walk along the canal from school,” Angela Currie, local resident, said.

Currie lives right off Spurlock.

“I’m concerned because he’s eating the ducks,” Currie said, pointing to the opposite bank where several ducks had gathered away from the alligator.

“I’m concerned about the children who walk here every day. I definitely think it needs to be removed for the safety of the children.”

However, Currie was quick to point out that she would like the alligator to be humanely removed if possible.

“I’d prefer the gator to be taken alive,” Currie said. “He’s doing no harm, and I’d hate for (police) to kill him.”

Not all the neighbors, though, felt that the alligator posed a serious threat.

“It ain’t nothing,” C.B. Eubanks, local resident, said.

“We’re in Southeast Texas. It’s like saying you’re worried about mosquitoes. It’s part of living around here.”

Eubanks adopted a more casual manner toward the alligator.

“There’s always been gators there,” Eubanks said.

“I think there was an eight or 10-foot one back then that Texas Parks and Wildlife had to take away.”

Eubanks, who lived near where the alligator was sighted, also believed that it should be left alone.

“No one’s bothering the gators and the gators aren’t bothering anyone,” Eubanks said. “I haven’t even heard of anyone having a problem with the gators.

“Now if it was an eight-foot one, I would definitely get them to remove it. That’s when they get to dog-eating size.”

A concerned neighbor placed a call to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in order to have the alligator removed; however, they did not remove it because it was located on private property.

“Our policy is if it’s on private property, the land owner has to make the call,” Steve Satchfield, game warden for TPWD, said.

Still, Satchfield said he did not see any immediate cause for concern.

“This canal has been here for a long time and this school has been here for a long time, and we haven’t had any concern in the past with them…

“It’s a sunny day, so he’s out sunning himself. I would probably say this gator is just moving through.”

Satchfield explained his reasoning by way of animal behavior.

“Our kinds of alligators have a natural fear of humans. If they’re scared, they would go back to their safe spot in the water.

“Their first instinct is not to go into posture and attack; it’s to go into the water.”

However, Satchfield did warn that they could lose that instinct if fed by people.

“If an alligator has been fed by humans, that’s when they lose that fear instinct:

“Don’t feed wild alligators. They will lose their fear of humans.”

Satchfield went on.

“If somebody’s walking by and the alligator hasn’t been fed, he would go back into the water. In my opinion, that’s exactly what would happen.”