The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

July 11, 2013

Alligator found in Colbert County set free on Elk River

By Jean Cole

— A 6-foot alligator found Tuesday in a creek near Florence is now living the good life in a more remote area on the Elk River near Rogersville.

The gator’s move from Cypress Creek to the Elk River — which is located on the Limestone County/Lauderdale County line — had some residents concerned. But conservation officers could not simply kill the animal, a Lauderdale County Sheriff’s dispatcher confirmed Wednesday.

Lauderdale County Animal Control Officer Dewayne Oliver captured the alligator Tuesday in Cypress Creek with a noose after a camper spotted the gator off County Road 6. The unharmed alligator was released in the Elk River near Rogersville, a Lauderdale County Sheriff’s dispatcher confirmed Wednesday. After learning about the alligator, Oliver called the game warden, and the two decided to transfer the gator to an area on the Elk River.

State law prevents the killing of alligators (except in certain areas of the state during certain hunting seasons to those with permits), so the alligator was moved to an open area away from people, the dispatcher said.

Limestone County Animal Control Officer Joe Moss said he was unaware of the gator’s move to the Elk River.

Darryl Askew, senior supervisor for the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries law-enforcement section, said he was aware of the alligator move but he did not know precisely where on the Elk River the animal was relocated.

Alligators occur naturally in scattered populations in Alabama, he said, offering the following advice: “Like any wild animal, you have to take appropriate precautions, just as you would with copperhead snakes or rattlesnakes or with bears in North Georgia or Tennessee.

“With any wild animal, there is a risk of bad experience.” Askew said.

He advised residents to “just look at them and keep a respective distance.”

The upside of alligators is that they are a “major predator” of poisonous cottonmouth snakes, which are also plentiful in Alabama, Askew said. Gators also eat fish and turtles, he said.