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Why is there a 3-foot-long alligator in the retention pond behind Sam’s Club?

Amy Hotz
StarNews
Alligator

An alligator was spotted in April 2011 in the retention pond near Sam's Club in Wilmington. (StarNews photo by Amy Hotz)

Really, for the same reason alligators are anywhere. Alligators depend on water for survival. According to Hap Fatzinger, curator at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, our area is well within the range of alligators’ normal native habitat. They are often found in retention ponds and golf course ponds.

Although they’re small bodies of water, they provide delicious snacks for any ‘gator including sunfish, frogs, small turtle sand even ducks and geese.

“It’s not that uncommon at all to have an alligator in any water source around here,” Fatzinger said.

He and Andy Wood, education director of Audubon North Carolina, agree that the small alligator probably found his way to the vicinity of Sam’s Club, 412 S. College Road, Wilmington [Map this], from Burnt Mill Creek.

“Especially young ones like that are able to travel extensively over land, like a mile or so,” Wood said.

He said it’s very possible this alligator hatched near the creek and needed to get out of harm’s way – away from territorial adult alligators – followed some drainage pipes, culverts and ditches, then settled in at the retention pond. If this pond does not have enough animal life to support a growing ‘gator, he will likely pick up and move again.

“My guess is he’ll be there until somebody complains,” Wood said, in which case the N.C. Department of Wildlife Resources would remove it.

Both men caution, however, that it is against state and federal laws to feed, harass or catch an alligator. Feeding alligator could make it more aggressive toward humans.

User-contributed question by:
Jennifer Lee

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