LIBERTY – Customers at the new 7-ELEVEN have been getting more than gas and Slurpee's of late, as an increasingly friendly alligator has been greeting patrons in a nearby retention pond.
After numerous pleas by community members to do something about the creature growing increasingly brave and wandering toward customers, authorities with the Texas Game Warden’s office were on scene Friday to find a solution.
Liberty County Game Warden Chad McKinney said that once a gator gets around five to six feet, it is considered too large for them to relocate.
He also said that once people begin feeding a gator, it becomes a nuisance, thus making it more difficult and dangerous to handle.
“We don’t like to remove them from their natural habitat,” but McKinney felt it was needed with people feeding it. “We wanted to get this one out of there before it bit someone.”
So, after assessing the situation early Friday, McKinney made the decision to call Gator Country for assistance.
For those unfamiliar with Gator Country, it is a wildlife park where over 90% of the reptiles and animals have been surrendered or rescued. It is the only sanctuary for nuisance alligators in Texas.
The folks at Gator Country arrived around midday, and after spending several hours corraling the reptile, which measured 7 feet, they were able to wrangle and secure it for transport back to Beaumont to live out its days.
Stories of people reportedly feeding the gator have been circulating on local social media posts for some time.
McKinney made it very clear that feeding gators is against state law, and anyone caught doing so would have charges filed against them.
He also said that signs warning against feeding them would be placed around the pond at 7-ELEVEN, and store employees would take the license plate information of anyone seen feeding gators.
McKinney said he had previously removed another gator but could not be sure anymore remained in the pond. He did note that the business is located next to swamp land, and it was safe to assume more could be nearby.
Again do not feed alligators and report any nuisances to authorities and for more information on Gator Country, visit gatorrescue.com.