Elusive alligator captured in Ethel Lee Tracy Park lake, released in Guadalupe River
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The ducks at Ethel Lee Tracy Park can go back into the water.
Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens have caught the elusive alligator, first sighted at the city park two weeks ago.
"I'm relieved. We've spent the past two weeks going out there two or three times a day looking for it, so it's good it's been caught," Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden Jon Kocian said.
For the last two weeks, the wardens made trips out to the park, circling the pond, shining lights, combing the brush and scanning the water to see if they could spot an alligator reported lurking in the murky depths.
"We tried everything," Kocian said.
On Wednesday evening, they spotted the gator, its eyes visible above the water line.
The gator swam from the middle of the pond, stopping about 15 feet from the shore.
The game wardens used a fishing rod and a hook to snag the gator and pull it to the water's edge.
Then they used rope and a catchpull to secure the animal, taping its mouth shut and depositing it in a vehicle to transport it.
While initial reports estimated the alligator to be about 3 to 4 feet in length, the animal fished out of the pond measured about 5 feet, Kocian said, noting in the grand scheme of things, this wasn't a large specimen.
The alligator was spotted about 11 p.m. and captured within 20 minutes, Kocian said.
Alligators tend to be on the move when rain fills the ditches with water, allowing them to travel easily by swimming.
Recent heavy rains may have caused the alligator to wander into the city park.
The animals are usually looking for new habitats and feeding grounds, Kocian said.
The alligator was deposited in the Guadalupe River at the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority Waste Water Treatment Plant south of Victoria, Kocian said.
"It's south of town where it shouldn't bother anybody. That's why we choose that spot," Kocian said.
He said he didn't expect to see the animal back in the area any time soon, because they normally go downstream.
However, he warned people shouldn't entertain ideas of catching alligators themselves.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens are trained to deal with alligators, but even game wardens have been injured by the animals.
Those untrained to deal with alligators need to stay away from them, Kocian said.
"I don't want people getting ideas and thinking they can go out and catch one," Kocian said. "Everybody else should leave alligators alone. It's against the law to feed or possess an alligator, so don't do it."