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Story Archives: American dream alive in local pond
|American dream alive in local pond|
A Louisiana native, probably just looking for someplace to call home, adopted a Winnsboro park recently and was met with warning signs days before the Fourth of July.
"Beware of Alligator," say signs posted in Civitan Park, along the asphalt walking trail which skirts a finger-shaped, swamp-like pond that hosts a Boy Scout hut and several picnic tables on its banks. Winnsboro Mayor Jack Hammons admitted last Thursday of calling out the signs to combat the public threat of a three and one half foot alligator.
"We had several calls from people expecting us to do something about it," Hammons said of the future menace. (Any alligator has to be at lease five, if not six feet in length to be considered a nuisance by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.)
City officials contacted the area WDWF office in Ferriday where manager John Leslie asked Winnsboro resident, and retired agency biologist John Posey, to look into the report. Posey is a regular walker on the Winnsboro park trail which covers just over one-half mile.
Posey confirmed the presence of the heavily protected animal. The alligator is known for its protective skin and it is an endangered species which has the protection of both state and federal laws.
Although common in Louisiana, alligators are in a genre of animals endangered worldwide, according to Leslie.
He said the first inkling of an alligator roaming the edges of Winnnsboro's city limits came about, "two or three weeks ago." But, Hammons said, "Preacher Ron Ferrington first said he saw one a few months back. I didn't believe him then, but now I do."
Posey said the reptile probably comes and goes in the park and Leslie speculates that the animal may be using the shady lagoon as a respite from hot weather.
"The city puts water in there from time to time and that makes the temperature a lot cooler than it's going to find anywhere else," Leslie points out. (In case any person, or other alligators need reminding, local temperatures have hovered at or above 100 degrees for the last several weeks.)
"It'll likely be around as long as there's a food supply," said Leslie.
Daily walkers in the park, some who have spotted the eyes and snout just above the water's surface, think other park residents, such as squirrels and ducks, are endangered by the alligator.
Leslie says not to worry.
"This one's about two years old and is mostly feeding on crawfish and maybe dead fish. It might catch a duckling, but wading birds and larger fowl will have little trouble getting away from something this little," he said.
Two natural events may have triggered the alligator's move to take over the park and throw the fear of alligator aggravation into park users.
"First, there have been several high water events in Turkey Creek," Leslie said, "and that could have caused some natural roaming."
"Also, this is the nesting season and the large adults have established their territories and have run out any competitors.
"This one is not near the breeding stage, but it still would have been run off by larger alligators."
The Wildlife manager said the small interloper into the public pond may travel in a circle of up to an acre in size if it were looking to establish a territory, or home, of its own.
But, because food sources are limited, Leslie thinks the traveling future handbag is silently slinking back to Turkey Creek for feeding while still seeking the American Dream—a place with room to grow and call home.
Meanwhile, local residents can rest assured, public officials are on the job—warning signs are up.