LAKE LANIER – Jason Clark heard about the 3-foot alligator spotted on Lake Lanier earlier this week. But even after someone sent him the picture from Facebook, it still wasn’t high on the radar of the man who runs Southeastern Reptile Rescue.
But the calls kept coming. Would he catch it?
Eventually, after talking with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, whom he contracts with, Clark and the DNR decided it might be best to capture the alligator ahead of the holiday weekend.
After all the attention the gator had received, they didn’t want someone to take it upon themselves to interact with the reptile.
Scott Frazier, wildlife biologist for DNR, said the agency had been receiving reports on the gator for about six weeks. Frazier said DNR was “confident it was not a physical threat,” but after one person offered to catch it another tried to hook it while fishing, the department changed its approach.
Frazier said having someone with Clark’s experience remove the gator was better than others trying to do it.
“It keeps the animals and people safe,” Frazier said.
With satellite images from DNR of the area near Don Carter State Park where the alligator had been spotted, Clark, his cousin Sarah Tatum and his uncle Ted Tatum set out Wednesday night to catch the gator around 8:30 p.m.
Though all the pictures of the gator had been taken during the day, “it’s easier to catch them at night” because of their eyes shining, Clark said.
He parked his vehicle at the park and then put his boat in the water. It took less than five minutes to spot the alligator, but boats and docks gave the gator enough hiding places to make it a much tougher task to catch it.
“It was tough trying to maneuver our boat,” Clark said.
After chasing it along the bank of the cove, the alligator disappeared, and Clark decided to take a break for 20-30 minutes by moving out of the cove. Once they returned, they had captured the gator within 15 minutes.
Once Clark determined Thursday morning that the gator had no injuries, he said it would be released somewhere south of Columbus, Macon and Augusta into its natural habitat later in the day Thursday.
“When we have a chance to release an animal into the wild, that’s the first and foremost thing we want to be able to do,” Clark said.