North Texas

Flooding Rains, Growing Population Lead to More Gator Sightings in North Texas

Alligator sightings are not uncommon at Lake Worth, but those who live along the lake believe more and more of the creatures are being spotted recently.

"We've seen them before, but normally they're closer to the nature center. But now with all the water and rain they're coming out everywhere," Christa Fincher said.

Fincher, her family and neighbors all spotted what she estimated to be a 10- to 12-foot-long gator Sunday morning, and her husband was able to record the video on his cell phone.

"Actually, at first I thought it was cool because I've never seen one that close up," Fincher said. "But then it's getting to a point now everybody is seeing them so often that we've got to do something about it. Somebody's going to get hurt."

Fincher notes the lake is high – it's closed to boating right now because of flooding – and she believes that is one reason there have been more sightings recently.

Experts say she's right.

Capt. Cliff Swafford, a game warden with the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, says high waters may have displaced the creatures, pushing them out into the open. But he also notes the population of alligators is growing.

Swafford also tells NBC 5 it is still breeding season, albeit toward its end, and what will follow is nesting season, when females can become protective of their nests.

While game wardens have relocated alligators before, they won't do it simply because it's in an area where boating, fishing and swimming is common. That does not qualify the gator as a nuisance animal.

Officials, instead, urge people to steer clear of gators and avoid feeding them.

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