Alligators Among Us: Nuisance alligator on SPI finds home in Gator Sanctuary

By Laura Lyles Reagan

Special to the PRESS

An alligator is carried away from the front of KOA Campground, on South Padre Island, on October 27, 2019. The four-foot alligator had been spotted several times nearby at the Sea Ranch Marina. Photo courtesy of the South Padre Island Birding Nature Center and Alligator Sanctuary.


South Padre Island Birding Nature Center and Alligator Sanctuary (SPI SBNCAS) received a call on the morning of October 27, 2019, from SPI Police Department regarding a four-foot nuisance alligator near the KOA entrance, right off Padre Blvd. Texas Parks & Wildlife were contacted first and, since they were several hours away, they asked the Police Department to contact SPI SBNCAS. 

There had been sightings of this alligator around the Sea Ranch Marina for over a month. Center Executive Director, Cristin Howard said, “If fish scraps are thrown into the water, that is free, easy food for an alligator, and it is common for habituated (nuisance) alligators to consistently hang around docks and piers where this may occur.” She advised that it is important that fish scraps be thrown into the garbage if alligators live in your area.

When SPI SBNCAS staff arrived there were numerous people, police cars, and golf carts near the alligator. The alligator demonstrating no fear of humans. This behavior, along with the proximity to the KOA deemed this a situation where the alligator needed to be removed. 

Howard said, “We are very happy to be able to assist the City of South Padre Island and Texas Parks & Wildlife.”

The SPI BNCAS was built around the Laguna Madre Water Districts’ water treatment plant, and, as such, we have a freshwater habitat here on the island that wild alligators have resided in for years. We have a large population of wild American Alligators in the Rio Grande Valley, and that population is growing. We are thrilled to be partnering with Gator Country, of Beaumont Texas and have been issued a permit by Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, to create a safe way to house “nuisance alligators” those habituated to humans due to humans feeding them, for the rest of their natural lives, while also sharing a unique educational experience for local residents and visitors alike. Alligators are an important part of Texas’s natural history, as well as an integral component of many wetland ecosystems.

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