Pond’s unwelcomed guest

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 4, 2010



LAPLACE – For almost two weeks, the pond at Highway 51 Park outside the LaPlace Library played host to an unwanted guest that was terrorizing other animals that call the area home.

An 8-foot alligator had been trolling the waters of the pond and feasting off an assortment of ducks and other birds nesting and swimming along the banks. The gator was snared and captured Thursday by a St. John Parish nuisance officer, who is also an experienced gator trapper.

Ryan Aubert, who has been snagging gators out of St. John Parish neighborhoods for the past month, said the 8-foot alligator was the largest he has captured in a residential area so far.

“I’ve gotten five since I started on as a nuisance officer here,” Aubert said. “I’ve caught a couple 7-footers and a few 6-footers, but this is the biggest.”

Aubert said the gator was pulled from the pond Thursday evening after it was snared on a hook baited with chicken parts. He said the gator was released from the snare and sold to a gator farmer in the area.

Prior to his capture, several park patrons who regularly walk the track and feed the ducks had seen the gator trolling the shallow pond.

“He swims around the lake like he owns it,” said LaPlace resident Connie Rawlinson, who saw the gator on numerous occasions. “It’s almost like he is living in his own chicken restaurant because he has been picking apart the ducks one by one.”

Rawlinson and other park patrons had noticed a stark decrease in the number of waterfowl in and around the pond. She also said she had seen remnants of ducks that were not able to escape the gator’s grasp.

“There have been feathers and other duck body parts scattered all about the pond,” Rawlinson said. “It seems like the gator creeps up at night and catches them when they are sleeping.”

Rawlinson was initially concerned about the ducks but also wondered how much further the threat could have grown, particularly during busy evening hours when lots of people are present.

“There are always children playing out here,” Rawlinson said. “That’s definitely cause for concern.”

The parish had posted warning signs around the lake to notify residents of the gator before the nuisance officer could get out to rig the trap.

Aubert said it took about three days to finally reel in the gator.