Gator on the loose! Neighbors say watch out!

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - An unwelcome visitor, a gator, showed up in a drainage canal near University Drive and West Jefferson in Lake Charles. It's near houses and where kids play. Residents are spreading the word for parents to keep kids away.

You might think you'd have to be in the marsh or at the zoo to see an alligator so up close and personal. But the alligator was just a stone's throw from University Drive in the big drain ditch off West Jefferson in Lake Charles. The neighbors first spotted him in the morning.

"We got about a seven or eight foot alligator that stays under the bridge, comes out and suns himself," said resident Pete Martin.

He disappeared for a while and now he's back. Folks who live there worry about children coming home from nearby Dolby School and those who play in the neighborhood. Resident Kilah Williams is concerned.

"My little brother said he'd seen an alligator come out, there's about a six foot alligator laying in there," said Williams. "I used to play in here, see kids every day that are down there playing and if there's a big gator down there they're going to get bit. Somebody's going to get hurt if not killed."

Under certain conditions this would be a matter for Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries but officials there say many gators pass through the canal. Officials advise residents to stay away from the gator and call back if they continue to see him. Still, residents know the gully tends to attract kids, but they plan to spread the word to try to make sure nobody gets hurt as long as the gator is hanging around.

"We just wanted to be sure that the parents of the kids didn't let their kids go down in the gully at any time really, unless they've got parent supervision," said Martin.

Meanwhile they hope he's a one time visitor and not planning to take up residency.

State Wildlife and Fisheries officials say they respond right away only if a gator is causing an immediate threat to someone, like on their front porch. In this situation, so far, the gator is staying in the canal and sunning itself on the bank. So, they will only contact a hunter to set lines if the gator becomes a nuisance. Generally gators four foot or smaller are not considered a threat.

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