Gator sightings more common with recent weather, DNR warns

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Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 / News 12 at 11 o'clock

AUGUSTA, GA. (WRDW/WAGT) - We finally got some rain, but the lack of rain in the last few weeks may have forced some gators out of hiding. We've seen several lately-- and it's not a coincidence.

Doris Wilder was on her nightly walk along Sandbar Ferry Road earlier this week when she ran into an unexpected guest strolling on her path.

"I was like--what in the world is that," she told News 12.

That--was a 6 foot gator blocking her way.

"I said 'mm imma take a picture.' I thought I was in a safari!" she exclaimed.

She snapped a picture, but didn't stick around very long.

"It's sort of the tail end of mating season, now we're getting to nesting season, so you'll see females establishing the nest, guarding the nest," said Lee Taylor with Georgia DNR.

Taylor says because of the timing, it's totally normal.

"This time of year, the younger, sub-adult males and the sub-adult females--will be pushed out by the more dominant males," he explained.

The one Doris saw was most likely pushed out--but there's also another factor.

"The water in this area--it's usually as high as the rocks," explained Michael Morgan. He's referring to a swamp just behind his apartment complex.

Taylor says that because of the lack of rain many gators in smaller ponds--or swamps like the one behind Morgan's apartment--are looking for water.

Morgan has helped report 2 additional sightings in the past month.

"The first gator was by the bus stop," he said.

There was another crossing the road found by his neighbor.

His apartment complex--Walton Oaks--has a swamp in the back near the Savannah River. But with no rain in the last 24 days, there's not much swamp left.

"Just like if someone took our home away, we'd have to find somewhere else to live," Taylor said.

Taylor also adds, with rain in the forecast, those displaced gators will be on the move again.

"Whatever ponds that dried up, they'll re-hydrate. Whatever animals that used to live there--will probably move back in there," he said.

Morgan is concerned that with many families around, safety could become an issue.

"Keep an eye on your children, because if they run into one of these creatures, it could end up being a dangerous situation," he said.

Taylor is telling anyone who might see a gator in their path to walk away and leave the animals to go where they're headed...Unless of course that spot is a residential area.

Then you can call DNR.

He also warns that it's not just smaller gators looking for space.
Larger females will be out nesting and guarding their eggs--so stay aware.