Well, the answer is simple, and for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department alligator expert Amos Cooper, it is also expected.
“This is breeding season right now,” he said. “All of these alligators we are seeing ganged up is suspected.”
Recently, a group of hunters caught a near record-tying 14-foot, 3-inch long gator near Oakville in the Nueces River. The key fact is that they had not seen a gator this big before.
About 11 months before that, a similar sized gator was hauled out of the Choke Canyon Reservoir area.
Many speculated that the reason is the drought, and the animals are on the move.
A search online will produce story after story during the last few years of massive gators caught in areas they wouldn’t normally be found.
Cooper says there isn’t enough evidence to indicate that the alligator populations are making moves beyond what is expected this time of year.
The alligators, especially the big ones, will be moving about and going to areas that they may not have been before. The reason—well, it’s for love, or the gator equivalent.
Cooper said that especially around this time, he expects to hear from residents finding the smaller reptiles under cars and in swimming pools.
The larger gators will win out when it comes to the best spots along the rivers and in the lakes. The smaller reptiles will head out to avoid becoming lunch.
Many times, the gators aren’t actually any place new. It’s just that they went unnoticed because people weren’t living in the area or hadn’t cleared around the hiding spots.
“It is the human population that has built up,” he said. “People don’t like the idea of them laying on the bank.”
“They just know it is going to eat them or their pet,” he said. “We cannot come out and take those animals.
“It really has to be a danger to them.”
The biggest concern right now is that the alligators tend to be more aggressive than usual, but only as the mother is preparing to lay eggs.
“This is when you will feel them bumping boats and hissing,” he said. “They are pretty docile except during breeding and incubation time.”
His biggest warning—don’t feed the alligators. It wasn’t a good idea in the movie Lake Placid, and it isn’t a good idea in real life.
“I tell people you are training that alligator to injure your child,” he said.
But these animals aren’t the only creatures on the move.
Look outside. It’s easy to see just what effect the drought is having.
The grasses are drying. Pastures are turning into dirt farms. Many ponds are nothing but a dry hole.
And this is having an impact on the animals that call the wild home.
Most frequently seen are the deer. They too are now in a precarious position.
In about a month or so, many a doe will be giving birth. Survival of both the mother and the fawn will depend much upon Mother Nature.
Kent Williamson, area Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist, said, “A lot of stock tanks are drying up, and they are going to congregate around the remaining water sources.”
Deer are going to move where the water is.
“You can imagine going from 100 water sources then shrinking down to 25,” he said.
This drought, assuming it continues as predicted, will have a negative effect on the fawn population.
But, there is some good news in the bleak weather forecast.
Not everywhere is dry, and the animals can still find water.
“The rainfall can be so localized that one area can be harder hit than others.
“Everybody who looks at the radar swears the rain always goes around them.”
Ranchers can help the wildlife, and mostly this involves management by ensuring the herd populations aren’t excessive, and that there is water available.
“If we could predict the weather perfectly long term, it would be easier,” he said.
“You never know what is going to happen.
“South Texas is either in the money as far as rainfall, or it is in drought.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.