By: Joel Allen

Years ago I watched a movie titled, Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg. Thank you, Mr. Spielberg, I will not swim in the ocean now! Then, there was another movie that I believe was titled, Alligator, directed by Lewis Teague. Thank you, Mr. Teague; now, I definitely don’t swim where I cannot see into the water. Where am I going with all this? The title says it all, and I don’t mean college football. Roll Tide! Recently, there have been a number of sightings of alligators here in North Alabama, and the number seems to be growing. My Facebook page gets a few videos each month of some local citizen seeing one, and I repost it so other folks can see what is out there. Thanks to these sightings, I no longer fish or camp near our rivers or waterways. Gators have been sighted in creeks, ponds, rivers, and other waterways; so be careful. They are most active during the summertime and can be seen sunning themselves often. According to my research, gators tend to avoid humans or high-traffic areas if possible. So, if the mood strikes someone to hike to remote areas, they must be aware that the possibility of running across one of these creatures is becoming very likely each year.

What I have learned from a little bit of research is that in 1979, over fifty alligators were released into our Alabama waterways in hopes of saving the species. It was even implied that gators could help control the beaver population, but that so far has just been a rumor. The public did not like this, and the idea was retracted with the Conservation Officers tasked to recapture and remove the gators. According to my information, only three were recaptured. The others have been slowly breeding and increasing in population.

I want everyone to know and understand that the threat is real and to take caution when walking their dog(s) or going to the rivers or waterways of any kind to fish, hike, or camp. I am not trying to be a fearmonger; but by making my readers aware, I hope they avoid tragedy that could happen here in Alabama and has happened in Florida. So far, the majority of attacks from gators have happened in Florida. I have witnessed video footage of people running across alligators in Alabama. I even saw one video where two guys were messing with a gator, and I just shook my head and thought, “Why provoke something that can move lightning fast and kill you?!” Another reason I am passing this warning to everyone is for the benefit of our canine family members. If they are tied outside near a location where a gator might be, then they are in danger and could become an easy meal for these creatures. No one wants to have the memory of that on their mind. Don’t even assume that a fence will stop a gator from getting your dog. I have seen video footage of a gator climbing a chain link fence. Please take precautions!

Keep in mind that gators are a master of camouflage when in the water. They can remain under water for a long period of time and not even be noticed when in shallow water. Ever see the video of the two water buffaloes arguing about whether that was a log in the water or not? They argue for a bit, and the one that kept saying it was a log gets on the gator and jumps up and down. The gator eats the water buffalo. So, heed my warning folks and keep those fur babies safe. Pay close attention when out on the waterways. I can’t say this enough: These creatures can blend into their surroundings and not be seen until it is too late!

Lastly, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of understanding these creatures and their habits. If everyone takes the time to study gators and their habits, it increases the chance of surviving an encounter with them. Honestly, if I see a gator or suspect one is near me, I am leaving the area before I get into trouble. I am not a “law breaker,” but if I am in danger, or one of my babies (human or fur), then that gator will be annihilated real quick. Just saying! By: Joel Allen

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