Alligators Seen Near Eagle Mountain Lake Dam

The alligators are in a restricted area and aren't in the lake.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Alligators call a restricted area on the other side of the dam at Eagle Mountain Lake home. Game wardens say take a picture but leave the gators alone. (Published Thursday, Mar 21, 2013)

    It's a sight that's not all that surprising -- an alligator was spotted near Eagle Mountain Lake the last few days.

    The alligator is in a restricted area on the other side of the dam from the lake in the spillway. It's technically in the Trinity River channel, which is where most American Alligators are found in North Texas.

    Actually seeing one isn't always easy, just ask David Geary, Tarrant Regional Water District Eagle Mountain Lake Reservoir Manager.

    "They tend to keep to themselves," he said. "I've been out here for several years and I see them rarely."

    But, the last few days a single alligator has been spotted, by some contract workers on TRWD property, in the spillway just hanging out.

    "They're an elusive animal," Geary said. "You're not going to see them out where there's a lot of public, so they like to stay in places that are restricted where there's not a lot of public activity going on."

    In fact, the alligator in the spillway and another in a nearby pond are in a restricted and dangerous area owned by TRWD. The area is fenced off and under 24-hour surveillance being so close to steep hills and drop-offs near one of the lake's spillway mechanisms. NBC 5 received permission and was escorted into the area by TRWD officials. It's an area the water district wants to make clear is not open to the general public. But, if you have really good eyes while driving on the road over the dam you might catch a glimpse.

    Seeing alligators out and about on water ways in North Texas isn't unusual, they're natives to the area, and seeing them now is actually not all that rare.

    "We're seeing more of them, I'm not sure if that actually means we have more," Rob Denkhaus, Natural Resource Manager at the Fort Worth Nature Center, said. "We've been seeing some weird water conditions, there isn't as much water so they're condensed. But I also think they're becoming less afraid of people because there isn't as much harassment as they used to get."

    You can see an infant alligator at the Fort Worth Nature Center's Hardwicke Center, and that's probably as close as you'll want to get.

    "Most definitely," Denkhaus said. "You got to leave them alone, they are wild animals they are potentially dangerous. You don't want to do any kind of harassment, even if you find a little one they're not good pets and they're not legal pets. Just leave them be and enjoy the fact that they're there."

    Where they are found is in the Trinity though, not in Eagle Mountain Lake.

    "We have not had any sightings in the lake proper," Geary said.

    Which means unless you're really looking for them, you might just miss them.

    "Even people who canoe these waters  frequently canoe right past them without even realizing they're there," Denkhaus said.

    Hunting season for alligators begins April 1, however, the rules for hunting them are very strict and specific. The local game warden says, if you do see one, you should take a picture but otherwise leave it alone.