Monster gator killed in spillway

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Staff Reporter

NORCO – An animal nuisance control officer and personnel from the Bonnet Carre Spillway spent over an hour Friday morning removing an 11-foot, 2-inch alligator from a recreation pond frequented by area fishermen.

Spillway park ranger Skip Jacobs said he received the initial call about the gator after some people in the area watched it emerge from the water and situate itself on the pond’s bank.

“It doesn’t happen very often,” said Jacobs of the gator appearance. “But when gators get bold and they are no longer afraid of people, something has to be done and we need to take it out.”

The gator was seen by a group of Metairie residents who were crabbing in the spillway pond when the gator came out of the water.

“We come out here quite a bit and had never seen one before,” said Mary Kay Robicheaux, who was there with her son, daughter, and nephew. “It’s a little scary because my husband was just out here this past weekend crabbing and wading.”

With the help of St. Charles nuisance animal control officer Kenny Schmill, the lengthy reptile was captured and killed in order to prevent any dangerous encounter with a human. He said the summer heat and weather gets gators moving around.

“With the thunderstorms we’ve had in the area lately, the alligators get more active,” said Schmill. “Anytime lightning strikes, they move.”

Once the gator was brought to land, Schmill said it took four men to lift it into the back of his pickup truck. He estimated the weight to be between 400 and 500 lbs.

Jacobs said the gator, which was the longest on record to be pulled from the spillway since a 10-foot alligator was caught last year, was probably attracted to the area by food left behind by picnickers and fishermen.

“We have to do everything we can to protect our visitors,” said Jacobs. “When food gets left behind, the gators will stick around and wait for more. It can turn into a big problem.”

Spillway manager Chris Brantley said the gator may have come from Lake Pontchartrain through a culvert that connects the pond to an outfall canal that drains into the lake. He said there is a program in place where gators in the spillway are caught and released into a more isolated habitat away from people.

The incident Friday comes just two days after 11-year-old Devin Funck of Slidell was attacked by a similar sized alligator while swimming in a pond near his home. Funck lost his arm in the attack, but is recovering well. Schmill was also called out last week to capture a 5-foot alligator that disrupted traffic along Interstate 10 near the spillway. That gator is believed to have fallen from a truck that was transporting it from a farm.