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Alligators to be moved after dog killed in TX neighborhood


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Texas wildlife officials say they’re working to remove alligators from an Austin, Texas, neighborhood after they reportedly killed a dog.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A group of alligators living in a retention pond in an Austin, Texas, neighborhood will be removed after an alleged attack on a dog, state wildlife officials said.

Earlier this month, Austin firefighters responded to a call from a resident of the Del Valle neighborhood in the city’s southeast side, saying a trio of alligators killed a dog, KXAN reported on Dec. 3.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department sent a game warden to investigate and said they could not prove there had been an attack, according to the TV station.

Though houses now fill the area, the neighborhood sits on what was once an alligator sanctuary, according to KXAN.

A resident who dialed 911 recalled the attack to KVUE.

“At that time he still was yelping,” Crystal Jaime told the outlet. “But then you can hear an alligator growl.”

Jaime worries it isn’t just dogs that could be in danger.

“I just saw a group of kids the day before yesterday in that same area, catching minnows because there was a lot of water there from the rain,” Jaime told KVUE. “So they’re in that same area where the dog and alligators were.”

More recently, state wildlife officials said they plan to have the animals removed from the neighborhood and placed elsewhere, according to a TPWD statement shared with McClatchy News on Dec. 19.

State wildlife officials were initially hesitant to take action against the alligators, preferring to leave them alone, outlets reported.

The decision to remove the alligators comes after days of talk with residents and area leaders, the statement said.

“In the past weeks, Texas Game Wardens and specialists from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) have worked closely with Del Valle leaders and residents, listening to their concerns, and sharing information on alligator habitat and behavior,” it read. “For the safety of all involved, including the wildlife, representatives of the community have clearly communicated their preference for the alligators to be removed from the area and relocated.”

Officials said an “alligator specialist” will be monitoring the area and keeping a close eye on the alligators while TPWD prepares a plan of action.

It could be weeks or months before they are trapped and relocated, the statement said.

While alligators aren’t a common sight in most of Texas, they are known to range across about a third of the state, TPWD data show.

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Alligators are widespread throughout much of Texas. Screengrab from TPWD.

Populations are thickest along the Gulf coastline, up from Corpus Christi to Nacogdoches and everywhere in between — but they also roam as far inland as Fort Worth, San Antonio, Laredo and Austin — stopping just shy of Waco.

There’s been an increase in alligator sightings and encounters in the state, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported, but that’s less an indication of a dramatically increasing alligator population as it is an exploding human population.

“It’s just we have more people in the state now than we’ve ever had,” Jonathan Warner, a TPWD alligator expert told the Star-Telegram.

More people means more new construction, more new housing on alligator territory. But if there’s a suitable body of water in a community, alligators won’t be shy about using it, Houston-based alligator hunter Chris Stephens told the outlet.

“Every time we build a neighborhood with a whole bunch of ponds, we add alligator habitat to the ecosystem,” Stephens said. “Alligators are naturally going to expand into habitat that’s there for them.”

Mitchell Willetts is a real-time news reporter covering the central U.S. for McClatchy. He is a University of Oklahoma graduate and outdoors enthusiast living in Texas.




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