Several East Texas children were swimming in a pond when they realized they had an uninvited guest with them: an eight foot long alligator.
The kids, who live in Texarkana, thought it was a small gator, but found out otherwise when it chased them out of the water. They told their parents, who called game wardens.
We were there when the gator was brought to Wood County from Texarkana.
“This gator was hunting kids, and probably would have killed one if we hadn’t got him,” said wildlife expert Mark McDonald.
Who can ignore the 300 pound gator in the room? Well, believe it or not, several kids spending the night in a tent in their back yard in Texarkana did. They heard it walking around the tent but thought it was two feet long.
The next day they saw it in the pond they were swimming in and thought the same thing that is until:
“It chased them out of the pond and I went and capture it because I knew it was bigger than what they were describing,” said McDonald.
Mark McDonald is a wildlife biologist and tracker. He is the person that game wardens call when a gator takes up residence on private property all over East Texas. He says if a predator is following someone, it probably regards them as prey.
“Regardless of how big the children say an animal is, if they see something in a pond or see something in the woods, parents need to listen to them. This gator was actually stalking those children and was a dangerous situation,” McDonald explained. The gator, he noted, was never in sight when adults were around searching for him. He only revealed himself when the children were alone.
Mark started stalking the alligator around sunset and caught it at 8 a.m. He can only catch them at night because as nocturnal animals, that is when they're active. Even though the gator has been struggling against capture and is carrying eggs, it still has fight in it. Mark has some advice for the public.
“Don’t swim where they’re at. Don’t think they’re tame just because they’re lying on the bank and sunning. They can run extremely fast. I’ve seen them catch a deer on the run,” McDonald recalled.
McDonald says the kids' parents made the right decisions: keeping the kids away from the alligator and calling authorities. McDonald says that’s what everyone should do.
McDonald says he has two more alligators to catch over the weekend. He then plans to take all three of them to East Texas Gators and Wildlife Park near Canton where they can be seen by the public.
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