Alligator bites man at Coleto Creek (w/video)

Bianca Montes By Bianca Montes

June 21, 2014 at 1:21 a.m.
Updated June 23, 2014 at 1:23 a.m.

An alligator  trap is set with a piece of meat near the island in Coleto Creek Park and  Reservoir on Saturday. A man reported that he was bit by an alligator in the reservoir while swimming  Thursday night.

An alligator trap is set with a piece of meat near the island in Coleto Creek Park and Reservoir on Saturday. A man reported that he was bit by an alligator in the reservoir while swimming Thursday night.

Nichole Banda didn't believe it when her son told her an alligator attacked a man at the Coleto Creek Park and Reservoir.

For the past eight years, her family has spent most of their summer at the river and has never seen an alligator or heard about an attack.

"It's a good day to be kayaking," 12-year-old Gavin Banda told a woman sitting in a blue kayak near the shoreline of Coleto Creek. Saturday's temperatures reached a high of 95 degrees, and the river was booming with guests finding relief in its cooled waters.

"Not for the man who got bit by an alligator," she replied before paddling off.

An out-of-town camper was attacked and bit on his neck about 11 p.m. Thursday while swimming in the river, Chief Ranger Wilfred Korth said Saturday.

This is the first report of an alligator attack at the park, he said.

The camper, Robert Corbin, of the Austin area, was swimming about 100 yards from shore -- close to the dam -- and was alone when he was bit, said LaMarriol Smith, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority spokeswoman.

Corbin told officials that he thought an alligator bit him, Smith said, but authorities are trying to confirm the attack. Attempts to reach Corbin were unsuccessful Saturday.

Corbin was able to swim back to the shore and was taken to DeTar Hospital Navarro, Smith said. He was released from the hospital shortly afterward and had already returned home. His bite was described as being similar to a bad dog bite, Korth said.

The park did not release an official statement after the attack, and no signs were posted in the park or by the swimming area.

Korth said the park didn't feel it was important to issue a statement immediately, and the park's press department would make a statement after the weekend.

"It's important that people understand that there are alligators in the lake," he said, adding that park officials "feel like we educate people every day and try to make people aware of the hazards that might happen in the lake."

Nichole Banda, 31, of Victoria, said she'd never worried in the past about the alligators who are known to frequent the waters. Every body of water south of Interstate 10 has alligators in them.

"But now I'm a little worried," she said. "I'm going to have to be more vigilant of my kids when we are out on the water."

Alligators were once on the endangered species list but were removed in 1978; however, the reptile remains protected, according to information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

Korth said the park continues to see an increase in its alligator population because of the protection, but the park is not doing anything specifically to address the growth.

Korth, who has been with the park since its opening in 1980, said this attack is the first of its kind. Alligators are an intricate part of the river and reservoir habitats, and most guests are well aware of the fact and don't seem bothered by it, he said.

"There's alligators all over the place," Denver Eichler said Saturday while enjoying the water and some barbecue at the park.

Eichler, 42, of Victoria, said he's been going to Coleto Creek Park for a long time.

The alligators, he said, don't typically habitat the shoreline of the river and tend to be further out near the back of a small island.

"They don't bother us," he said. "Leave them alone - just like any other reptile, if you leave them alone, they'll leave you alone."

In 2009, an 800-pound, 11-foot monster alligator was killed in the swimming area of Coleto Creek after being a nuisance to swimmers, according to Advocate archives.

At the time, Larry Janik, the nuisance control hunter from El Campo, told the Advocate that killing the alligator was a safer option than moving it somewhere else.

Alligators naturally shy away from humans, according to "Alligators in Texas," a report filed by Texas Parks and Wildlife, but problems arise when alligators are fed by people. The report states alligator-human conflicts are rare in Texas, and to date, no human fatality has been attributed to an alligator attack in Texas.



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