Over the weekend, social media chatter revolved around reported sightings of three alligators at Lake Ray Hubbard near the Rowlett Road bridge.
Dameion Williams told NBC 5 he saw one about three weeks ago while fishing at dusk.
“It was swimming through, but once I noticed it it sunk down,” Williams said.
The Cities of Rowlett and Garland both said they haven’t received any reports and neither have Texas Game Wardens. However, the Alligator Program Leader for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said he wouldn’t doubt a sighting at the lake.
“It's within the species natural distribution in Texas,” said Dr. Jonathan Warner. “There is definitely verified records going back to the 2000s, even before.”
Warner explained the alligators may have come from the Trinity River basin and may be on the move as the water and air temperature increases.
He’s not aware of any biologists noting nesting and mating activity at Lake Ray Hubbard.
“So these are probably younger animals that are kind of vagrants,” said Warner. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they vacate the area over the next couple of months.”
Still, reports of sightings can seem unsettling to lake-goers who are much more accustomed to ducks and fish.
“Yeah, I was surprised,” said Katherine Varillas, a college student who was enjoying an afternoon at the lake with her parents and siblings Monday afternoon. “You would never expect it. You hear something, you’re not thinking it’s going to be an alligator.”
Nicole Sims, 10, who was riding her bike with her dad, said she’s an animal lover. The reported sightings didn’t concern her.
“Alligators aren’t that bad. They’re just natural creatures out here in the lake swimming,” said Sims.
Her dad agreed, but said they would keep their distance if they spotted one.
Warner said that’s the smartest move. Alligators typically feed at night and should be afraid of humans. He adds the biggest concern is making sure the public knows not to feed or approach gators.
“The number one problem we have with alligators in Texas is when they are fed and they lose their apprehension and fear of people,” said Warner. “Then we have to deal with them as nuisance alligators.”
Nuisance alligators, he said, would approach the water bank for food.
If you see one, Warner’s advice is to simply enjoy the sight and use common sense.
“Alligators are native to that part of Texas. They’re an important part of our aquatic ecosystem, whether it’s lakes or rivers or marshes.”