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See you later, alligator

In some parts of town, it’s more like See you sooner or later, alligator.

Hopefully there are none of these lurking about

This time of year, the proprietor of Janik Alligators in El Campo spends much of his time trying to keep that scenario from happening.

In the last week and a half in Fort Bend County, he says, 21 alligators were removed from the Sienna Plantation subdivision alone. State game wardens are being swamped by calls from residents across the region who have come across the wandering scaly reptiles.

The vast majority of those calls do not involve an alligator that is being a nuisance, says Amos Cooper, a Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist in charge of the department’s alligator program. More often than not they come from suburbanites who have bought a tract home in prime alligator habitat and have never seen one before.

And despite the fact that human-alligator interactions are increasing, such encounters rarely end badly – slightly more than a dozen times in the last 25 years – and no alligator-related deaths have ever been recorded in the state.

A nuisance alligator is defined as one that is killing livestock or pets, or has become a threat to human health or safety.

While one can sympathize with the rancher or pet owner over the loss of their animals, an alligator that takes them is simply doing what comes naturally. They become a threat to human health or safety when they interact with humans.

“If an alligator is in these subdivisions where they see people around the clock seven days a week, they become accustomed to people,” Janik says. “They’re not scared of people no more.”

On the one hand, I feel the smugness typical of urban core dwellers. On the other hand, I remind myself that I live half a mile from a bayou, so you never know. I guess the moral of the story is that just because you think your dog is barking at nothing doesn’t mean it really is barking at nothing. And given how cesspool-like the Chron story comments usually are, I feel compelled to give props to the person who said “When life hands you gators, make Gatorade” in response to this one. Well played, sir or madam.

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