New NC Gator Sightings

Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 17th, 2009

WCNC put it concisely: “No one knows for sure how the reptile ended up in Lake Hickory but the weather here is not warm enough for gators to live in.”

We last heard about this “crazy croc” that wasn’t suppose to survive the winter, way back in the spring of 2008.

Granite Falls, North Carolina, resident Len Mendat snapped this picture of a visitor napping on a log behind his back yard on Lake Hickory, on May 8, 2009. Other sightings have followed.

Ragan Robinson at the Hickory Daily Record shares the latest on the new out-of-place alligator sightings from North Carolina:

A Hickory [North Carolina] man said he spotted an alligator in the water near Lake Hickory Campground on Thursday [May 14, 2009].

It’s the second sighting in a week, and Gary Cook of Halifax Road said he doesn’t think this is the same animal.

“It kind of looked like somebody’s pet,” he said. “It was about aquarium-size.”

Granite Falls resident Len Mendat snapped pictures of what appeared to be a larger alligator Friday near his home by the lake. Last summer, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission officials studied an alligator or caiman in the lake but decided to let it be.

Cook, 60, is familiar with gators. He said he used to use a bow to hunt the creatures in Florida for the meat.

He prefers alligator tail to lobster but said he won’t be hunting the animals in Lake Hickory.

American alligators are a threatened species, which means it is illegal to kill them.

Cook isn’t too worried about the presence of an alligator.

“It can come around as long as it doesn’t bite my toe,” he said.

That’s unlikely, said Michael Juhan, a wildlife biologist for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

“As long as nobody’s been feeding them, they’re going to stay away from people,” he said. “They eat things that are the size of a toad or a frog. They’re not out looking for a 4-year-old swimming in the lake.”

His supervisor, wildlife biologist Brad Howard, took some flak earlier this week for saying an alligator in Lake Hickory does not pose a threat to humans or small pets.

Juhan said alligators that attack people or pets are normally 8 feet or longer and are used to being around people.

In photos, the animals spotted in Lake Hickory this year and last summer look smaller than that. Juhan said it is likely they were pets released into the lake when they became too much for owners to handle.

That could mean they have been around people, although Juhan said his office hasn’t gotten complaints about alligators coming into in yards or snapping at dogs.

“You can make assumptions about everything but you just have to treat them as wildlife,” Juhan said. “If they start causing problems, we’ll worry about them then.”

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

10 Responses to “New NC Gator Sightings”

  1. Andrew Minnesota responds:

    It’s kind of nice that they aren’t viewing this as an immediate threat that needs to be exterminated. Hopefully as it gets bigger no one will be injured and it can just be relocated to a more remote location.

  2. Ragnar responds:

    How is this strange or interesting in the Crypto sense?

    Alligators in NC aren’t unusual in the slightest. My Uncle lived in a condo in Wilmington that had a 4-5 foot gator in the pond. This was 15 years ago.

  3. Loren Coleman responds:

    “How is this strange or interesting in the Crypto sense?”

    First, we must take into account that the local wildlife folks understand this is an unusual animal for this area, and that, against predictions, it or a kin survived the winter in this mountainous area.

    Also, please see this posting from May 14, 2006: “Why Cryptozoology Is Interested In Alligator Sightings.”

  4. maeko responds:

    gators are some tough boogers…if they’ve established themselves, they will “go forth and prosper”!

  5. norman-uk responds:

    I hope someone has seen it move as it looks pure plastic to me !

  6. Bob K. responds:

    I’m rather intrigued by reports of ‘gators living further north than they are supposed to. Perhaps they have a greater ability to go into a torpor for longer periods under adverse conditions than previously thought.

  7. tropicalwolf responds:

    Life will find a way…

  8. dwindell responds:

    “How is this strange or interesting in the Crypto sense?”

    Well- first off you need to learn some simple geography. North Carolina is a large state. Hickory NC is about 250 miles northwest of Wilmington. This puts it right in the hills of the Appalachion Mountains. A gator in a lake in the mountains of NC is VERY different than a gator in a pond on the southeast coast of the state.

    What would you say if a gator was found in a lake in Eastern Tennesee? It’s closer to Hickory than Wilmington.

  9. Alligator responds:

    Alligators in China and the northern stretches of their US range are subjected to periodic freezing temperatures. They are tough boogers and are temperate animals, whereas crocodiles are tropical animals with no tolerance for cold. Gators will either go torpid in a burrow under an embankment or they will lay on the bottom with just the tips of their nostrils poking up through a skim of ice. The St. Louis zoo kept an American Alligator outside all year and he does quite well with the water temperature kept around 50 degrees.

    However, an especially protracted hard freeze can do them in. There was an account from the 19th century where numerous alligators were found dead on the Yazoo River of northern Mississippi because of an especially hard and prolonged freeze one year.

    The one in this photo is an American alligator, not a caiman. Caimans have pointed ocular lobes (almost look like horns above the eyes) But why it is up in the Appalachians is a good question. I’d say someone probably had transported it there as a juvenile. Migration seems unlikely, but they can travel great distances by water and by land.

    Down in the bootheel of Missouri some gators showed up in a small reservoir. Historically, they never existed in the state. It was suspected that someone had introduced them to try and control the muskrats. They seemed to thrive a few years then eventually disappeared. Missouri is just a tad too far north and too cold for an established population.

    Norman – as far as looking “plastic” crocodilians can sit motionless for hours at a stretch. They can surface, submerge and ease into the water so slowly they scarcely make a ripple if at all. Or they can explode with lightening speed that can still catch the experienced observer by surprise.

    Fossils show that in the Pleistocene period, before the first Ice Age, alligators were found as far north as Nebraska.

  10. cryptidsrus responds:

    Interesting story, Loren.

    Nice to know as always that critters like these survive in the unlikeliest of places.

    It’s real but it DOES look kinda plastic, doesn’t it?

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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