No animal symbolizes the marshes of the American South better than the American alligator.
Once an endangered species, the population rose enough to open a hunting season in 1984 and now thanks to solid management by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and private landowners, the alligator is doing wonderfully in the Lone Star State.
In fact, with increasing development and economic activity in region, alligators and humans are having more encounters than ever. Sometimes they find themselves in locations that pose a danger to themselves as well as people and that is where Gary Saurage comes in.
Saurage, owner of Gator Country in Beaumont, is one of several nuisance alligator control officers in the state and often gets the call when an unwelcomed gator shows up. The following is an excerpt from an article I wrote for the Port Arthur News and Orange Leader newspapers last week.
“We bring our team in and capture the gators and bring them back to Gator Country to be released alive. These nuisance gators can’t be released back into the wild so we put them in with our gators at the park to teach people about these amazing creatures,” Saurage said.
Saurage said it is extremely important to teach people about the importance of alligators and other native wildlife.
“Alligators are part of the natural order and are key to healthy wetlands. It can be really easy for the public to get a negative opinion of alligators because if you don’t understand them they look scary and sometimes get a bad rap. That is one reason I remain so passionate about the work we are doing with Gator Country and our Gator Rescue. We get to reach so many people with a true look at these amazing creatures,” he said.
Two weeks ago, I accompanied their crew on an alligator rescue at the Sunoco Plant in Nederland, TX.
It was amazing to watch them meticulously pursue the 10 foot, 8-inch alligator and bring it in alive.
“It requires a team do it like we do and I have a great one including some wonderful ladies that don’t mind getting muddy and getting hold of the gators,” he said.
Saurage said alligators are moving around now that temperatures are rising and the breeding season is upon us.
“It makes them scatter and that’s why you see more on the roads and sometimes in people’s yards and pools,” he said.
It is important to remember not to approach them closely and certainly not to feed them.
“When people start feeding alligators the gators start associating people with food and that is never good out in the wild. It’s best to observe and enjoy from a distance,” Saurage said.
If you an up close and personal alligator encounter, pay Gator Country a visit. There you can hold a baby alligator, feed them in a proper setting and encounter many other reptiles from the United States and around the world.
For more information go to www.gatorrescue.com.