Seen the gators?

Published 8:35 am Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Social media has been on fire with rumors that alligators have been spotted in several Escambia County waterways.

However, local officials – including a biologist – say there’s no cause to change your Fourth of July plans of visits to beaches at Ft. Crawford Park in East Brewton, Magnolia Branch or Little River State Park.

Facebook posts detailed sightings of an approximately 12-foot alligator at Ft. Crawford Park.

East Brewton Police Chief Kenny Brazille said Tuesday that he was aware of the sighting and said he plans to contact officials with Alabama Wildlife and Fresh Water Fisheries about the alligator.

“We haven’t seen one,” Brazille said of the alligator. “We’re hearing rumors, too, and as always, we want people to always use caution. I plan to contact the game wardens and get them to come out and take a look, but we want people to know that the celebration at the park is up from the waterway, and that area will be closely monitored.

“There’s no reason to not come on out and have a good time,” he said.

Mark Bailey is the senior biologist at Conservation Southeast Inc. with 20 years of field experience in the southeast and serves on the board of directors of the Alabama Wildlife Federation.

Bailey said the sightings are no cause for alarm.

“Alligators are making a comeback,” he said. If we respect them, and we don’t mistreat them by being nice to it, we should be fine. People love to throw hotdogs off the end of a pier, and when you do that, you’re creating a real problem.

“First rule is keep away from alligators,” Bailey said. “Alligators generally are afraid of people. The only time an alligator becomes a problem is when people feed it. That’s almost always the case.”

Bailey cited a case a number of years ago when an alligator attacked a man in Covington County.

“That was because people had been feeding the alligator,” he said. “Biggest rule is to not provide any kind of attractant, like fish on a stringer staked to the bank. You have to think about things like that.”