Bobby Tucker does not typically spend his Friday nights looking for alligators in the dark.
This past Friday, however, that is exactly the situation he found himself in as the City of Jemison’s animal control officer.
Earlier last week, Tucker received a complaint about an alligator thought to be swimming in a pond located off County Road 42 West. After several trips to the site, he was able to verify the complaint. There was only one problem:
“We didn’t have anything to catch him with, and we didn’t know what to catch him with,” Police Chief Brian Stilwell said.
The city turned to the Alabama Department of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries for help. Tucker, along with Sgt. Randy Morris Jr. and a local game warden, went out on a boat Friday night and took the reptile into custody.
“When we got close, we put a spotlight on him, which had him frozen,” Tucker explained. “Then, we lifted him up in a fishing net and taped his mouth and legs.”
The objective was to get through the ordeal without any injuries to people or the alligator, and this was accomplished. It took about 15 minutes to get the gator into the boat, Tucker estimated.
Upon capture the alligator was taken by the Department of Wildlife to be released back into its natural habitat. It was confirmed to be an American alligator, most likely from an Alabama waterway.
“We are not sure how the alligator got there,” Stilwell said, “but sometimes we find people get these types of animals when they are small as pets and are unable to care for them once they get big and let them go.”
The chief reason the alligator was relocated was because of liability concerns, as the pond is owned by a local gravel company.
Tucker said he could not remember any past instances of an alligator in Jemison.
– Scott Mims can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.