Scott Gordon, NBC 5 News
The death of an 11-foot alligator found last week between Eagle Mountain Lake and Lake Worth is under investigation. A Fort Worth Zoo employee says there is no reason for anyone to harm alligators in North Texas.
Texas game wardens are investigating the death of an 11-foot alligator found last week at or near the Fort Worth Nature Center.
The animal was discovered Thursday between Eagle Mountain Lake and Lake Worth, said Texas Parks and Wildlife spokesman Tom Harvey.
"Our wardens are still working to determine the facts surrounding the alligator's death," Harvey said in an email. "Because the matter is under investigation we can't say more about this specific incident."
Once an endangered species, there are now millions of alligators in the United States and -- by all accounts -- thousands in North Texas.
At the Fort Worth Zoo, a gator named Cupcake is used in children's shows.
"They're not looking at people as food," said zoo outreach manager Kristen Silvers. "We're just not on the menu."
Silvers said she doesn't understand why anyone would have harmed the gator near the nature center.
"It makes me sad if it was possibly poached because there's no reason to do that," she said. "Nobody had anything to fear from it."
Two years ago, after heavy rains, gator sightings soared in North Texas, especially around Lake Worth.
Last summer, a Dallas attorney and four other men were charged with killing a 900-pound 13-foot gator.
They claimed it was a public service.
Killing alligators is illegal on public land, and it is also illegal to feed them because they can lose their fear of people and become dangerous, Harvey said.
In general, however, alligators avoid people, Silvers said.
"The alligator doesn't want anything to do with people," she said. "They're going to be out of your way before you even know that they're there, so if you see one, leave it alone. Walk away."