Gators roam Morgan City -- Morgan City police say calls about alligators keep coming
MORGAN CITY, La. — Alligators continue to be spotted in people’s yards and neighborhoods in Morgan City, a problem police have been dealing with for about a month, which could be due to several different factors.
From May 10 to Sunday evening, Morgan City police picked up 20 alligators found around the city, Morgan City Police Chief Travis Crouch said. Alligators are still being found mostly in the Wyandotte Subdivision and Railroad Avenue areas, as well as behind the railroad tracks around Barrow Street, near Sacred Heart Church and areas near waterways, he said.
However, Crouch said it is normal for police to see a rise in alligators moving into residential areas this time of year. “This happens every year,” Crouch said.
Wildlife and Fisheries Biologist Lance Campbell of New Iberia said, though he is not familiar with all the factors in Morgan City that could contribute to the rise in alligator sightings, in general, anytime there is a major change in an alligator habitat, alligators tend to move around.
Because alligators are cold-blooded, their body metabolism is basically controlled by the environment, he said. Alligators are normally dormant in cold weather and begin to become active as the weather warms up, Campbell said.
The unusual change in temperatures recently may contribute to alligators reappearing often. “We warm up for a week and the next week we’re down to the 40s or 50s at night,” Campbell said.
“Instead of having that process take two weeks in a normal year, it might take six weeks this year because it starts to warm up,” Campbell said. “They start moving, start getting a little active and then, bam, it’s back in the 40s at night.”
The colder temperatures put alligators back into a dormant state again and when the temperatures warm up they become active again, he said. “I suspect a lot of what they’re seeing is that. It just keeps reoccurring because of what temperatures are doing,” Campbell said.
Crouch continues to warn people to call police immediately if they spot any alligator, he said. “Do not play with them,” Crouch said. “Do not feed them. Do not harass them. Do not try to touch them. They are wild animals. They will hurt you,” Crouch said.
Even small alligators are dangerous, Crouch said. The alligators that officers are picking up range from 3 to 8 feet in length, and officers catch four to five per day on average, he said.
Police continue to receive reports of alligators within the city, Crouch said.
Two officers are required to be able to capture the alligator, one to get it by the neck using a catch pole with a noose on the end, which is also used to catch dogs, and another officer to come behind the gator and strap its mouth shut with Velcro straps before releasing the alligator, Crouch said.
Officers haul the alligators away in the dog catcher truck or in a police unit and release them in a waterway away from subdivisions, he said.
Campbell did reference the significant rainfall a week ago in Morgan City, and said flooding can also make alligators move to areas to find a habitat that suits them, which is a habitat with some water but not a tremendous amount of water, he said.
Another possible reason alligators are moving into the city is that April and May are typically when alligators mate, which causes them to move around more, Campbell said.