Facebook not the most reliable source on alligators in Fort Worth

Posted Thursday, Mar. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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kennedy Our annual Great Alligator Sighting came early this year.

With the sun warming the West Fork of the Trinity River, a 12-foot gator came out long enough to waddle his way into a Facebook video and frighten sailors and swimmers at Lake Worth and Eagle Mountain Lake.

First of all, never believe a fish story on Facebook. That gator is in secure waters, safely behind the spillway from Eagle Mountain swimmers or sailors.

Second, it's too late to worry about gators getting into Lake Worth.

They were in that part of the West Fork before there was a Lake Worth.

Eagle Mountain Lake officials rushed to ease concerns Thursday after a video of the gator near the spillway and Wells Burnett Road was posted on Saginaw news sites and Texas fishing pages.

"We have never had a report of an alligator in Eagle Mountain Lake," said spokesman Chad Lorance of the Tarrant Regional Water District, the owner and operator of that 80-year-old lake.

The video was shot by a worker in the water district's closed retaining pool area behind the 85-foot-high dam in the West Fork, he said.

About 45 gators live peacefully at the Fort Worth Nature Center and swim up and down the river, said the Nature Center's Rob Denkhaus.

A fisherman was ticketed last year for killing an 11-foot alligator near Ten Mile Bridge Road near the nature center.

Texas' 250,000 alligators are state property and may not be trapped or killed except by licensed hunters under specific restrictions set by state law.

Denkhaus said those nice 85-degree days last week were nice for gators, too.

"This might be a little earlier than usual," he said. Last year's first sighting was April 10.

"The bigger gators came out to soak up the heat. They're just hanging out."

So far, they've stayed in the river and not in Lake Worth.

Fort Worth lake patrol sergeant Mike Martinez said nobody has reported a sighting.

Restaurateur Juan Jaramillo of Iron Spurs Bar & Grill in Sansom Park also runs an Eagle Mountain Lake restaurant at an inlet called "the cove."

"Everybody knows those alligators are at the dam, but they're on the other side," he said.

"They get into Lake Worth. Not Eagle Mountain. Everybody knows that."

Put it on Facebook.

Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @budkennedy

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