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Katy Gator Spotting: Leave It Alone and Back Away


March 17, 2019

By Wendy Teng

On March 11, an alligator was spotted at a small lake in Cinco Ranch, just off Cinco Ranch Boulevard, leaving a some parents concerned. A neighbor familiar with the area said that the alligator had lived there for about eight years and goes back to a nearby bayou from time to time, where other gators live. Although the gator does not appear to be a nuisance, the gator is not too far from walking trails that surround the lake. The alligator has not been known to approach people.

What Katy parents should know

There have been many sightings of Katy gators in bayous and ponds over the years, but no reports of attacks. With Katy's growing population, gators and humans may cross paths more than they have in past years so awareness is important. "Most Texans in 'gator country' will live in close proximity to these native reptiles with no confrontations," according to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

The TPWD says alligators have a natural fear of humans and will usually retreat upon seeing them and says it's uncommon for gators to approach humans.

What do do if you spot one

The TPWD says if the alligator is not bothering people or posing an obvious threat, wait a few days if possible - even up to a week - before contacting them. In spring and summer, alligators are moving to breed and find new habitat. Most of the alligators moving around are smaller ones that have been pushed out of their normal habitat by larger alligators. Usually, these smaller alligators will move further on in a week or two.

If the gator is a nuisance, such as seen to be approaching people or is an obvious threat, the TPWD advises to call the law enforcement communications center at (713) 779-8977.

Safe practices for Katy families

The best preventative practice is to maintain constant supervision of children when they play near any bodies of water or bayous. It may be useful to teach children to be aware of surroundings and to back away if there is a gator encounter.

  • Do not let children play around lakes, ponds, or swamps unsupervised.

  • Teach children to stay away from edges of the lake, pond, or swamp.

  • Teach children to not go after balls or toys that dropped into the lake, pond, or swamp.

  • Teach children about the dangers gators and what to do if there is an encounter (leave the alligator alone, maintain distance of approximately 30+ feet, and leave the area).

  • Let children know areas where there are gators and to stay alert in these areas.

  • Keep pets enclosed or on leash in areas where there are alligators.

  • Be cautious of fishing lines or hooks that can attract gators due to its similarities of natural food.

Tips for gator encounters

  • Stay calm. Do not approach the alligator. Slowly back away and leave the area when possible.

  • Maintain a safe distance (approximately 30+ feet away).

  • Do not feed the alligator. It is against the law, a Class C misdemeanor, and penalty is up to $500 to feed an alligator intentionally.

  • Do not harass or attempt to move the alligator. Call local authorities if a gator is blocking transportation.

  • Call TWDP only if the alligator is a nuisance.

  • Leave baby and small gators alone. The mother gator is often near the nest.

The TPWD says families can watch alligators as long as they are from a safe (30 feet or more) distance. "Wild alligators are an important part of Texas's natural history, as well as an integral component of many wetland ecosystems."

For questions or concerns, please contact Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

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