Families walking along the Trinity Trails east of downtown Thursday night were curious about the shouting man in a neon green shirt.
“Whoa, gator down!” Chris Stevens whooped.
Stevens, a licensed nuisance alligator hunter, drove up from Houston earlier in the day at the request of local agencies to catch a 10-foot-2-inch alligator that showed up in the Trinity River west of downtown after heavy rains in June.
On Thursday night, after searching about 11/2 hours, Stevens spotted the gator as it chomped down on some bait that Stevens flung out on a fishing rod. It was just a few blocks east of downtown between East Belknap and East Fourth streets.
Three game wardens with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and two employees of the Tarrant Regional Water District helped Stevens wrangle the gator out of the water and into his truck.
Why move the gator?
“The problem is not the alligator — it’s the people,” Stevens said. “Being in that high profile of a location, people are going to start feeding it, and anytime you have an alligator like this, it’s just a matter of time before people poke it.”
The alligator, who was blind and “very tired,” was loaded in Stevens’ pickup to head to a nature preserve, local game warden Travis Porter said.
Joseph Duran, 10, was on an after-dinner walk with his mom, dad and uncle when they spotted the wardens crouching near the water.
“I don’t think that’s the only gator in there,” Duran giggled.
Some people walking dogs and jogging stopped to watch, too.
On July 3, an 11-foot alligator in Orange killed a 28-year-old man swimming in the bayou despite warning signs. The alligator was killed by an Orange resident Monday. He told officials he was worried about his family’s safety.
In Texas, alligator hunting in public waterways, such as the Trinity, is illegal. Only licensed hunters such as Stevens can trap gators that have been declared nuisances.
“Everyone is fired up about the alligator that killed somebody,” Stevens said Thursday. “An alligator this size [the one in the Trinity] just eats a lot of small furry mammals. Maybe at some point it would probably eat someone’s dog.”
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792