Alligator Awareness

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Residents along the lower portions of Lake Worth have reported alligator sightings. The Fort Worth Nature Center (FWNC) staff believes high water and swift currents can displaced alligator population into lower Lake Worth.

The Fort Worth Marshal’s Lake Patrol office and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Wardens assigned to Tarrant County have jurisdiction over the FWNC and frequently patrol the area by boat and vehicle.

Description: Alligators are the largest reptiles in North America and can reach an adult length of more than 10 feet. They are generally black with yellowish or cream cross bands that become less apparent with age. An alligator’s body is usually not seen when in the water. An alligator’s size can be determined by estimating the distance between the eyes. For each inch between the eyes, add one foot to the length, i.e. 4” between the eyes = 4’ alligator.

Habitat: Alligators are native to the Trinity River watershed or region. Any freshwater habitat is suitable, but alligators are most common in areas with aquatic vegetation and suitable basking sites. They prefer areas with little human activity, but will follow their food source. Alligators have been seen at Lake Worth and Eagle Mountain Lake.

Diet: Consists of rough fish (carp, gar), small mammals, birds, turtles, snakes, frogs and invertebrates. The diet changes as the alligator grows with preferred food items getting larger with age.

Status: Alligators were once an endangered species but they are now a protected game animal in Texas. A permit is required to hunt, raise or possess an alligator.

State law prohibits feeding, killing, disturbing or attempting to move an alligator.

Safety Tips

  • Never feed alligators.
  • Avoid swimming and other water activities in areas with large alligators.
  • Swim only during daylight hours.
  • Do not dispose of fish scraps in the water.
  • Closely supervise small children in and around water.
  • Do not allow pets to swim, exercise or drink in waters where alligators may be found.
  • If you hear an alligator hiss, move away. You are too close.

To report alligator sightings, please call the Fort Worth City’s Marshal Office at Lake Worth at 817-238-9090.

To report an alligator that poses a threat to human safety, please call the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s district office weekdays at 817-831-3128 or after hours and weekends at 1-800-792-4263.

For additional alligator information, please call the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge at 817-392-7410.

 

Alligator Population Dynamics

Alligator Population Dynamics

How many are there?

A study is currently underway to determine the alligator population at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge. Preliminary findings indicate that the alligator population is between 15 and 25.

What makes them move?

Male alligators become more active during the mating season (April to June). Changes in habitat conditions such as higher or lower water levels can also increase movement.

Jurisdictional Definitions

Who is responsible for doing what?

Alligators are considered to be a native Texas game animal. They are regulated by the State of Texas through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Information on TPWD alligator regulations can be found at www.tpwd.state.tx.us or by calling 1-800-792-1112.

The City of Fort Worth prohibits the hunting of any animal at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge. TPWD regulations state that alligators may be taken ONLY on private property that surrounds Lake Worth; however, the City of Fort Worth also prohibits alligator hunting on the lake.

Although alligator hunting is legal under state law during the designated season, City of Fort Worth Code prohibits the discharge of firearms in the city limits. It also restricts the use of other weapons that fire projectiles-bow and arrow, crossbow, pellet gun, to larger tracts of land where nearby residents are not endangered.

Who should I call to report an alligator?

City staff is currently working with representatives from the Texas Parks and Wildlife to develop a hotline for residents to report alligator nuisance. However, if you ever find yourself “face-to-face” with any dangerous animal, always keep your distance. The safest way to observe wildlife in its natural setting is to give the animal its space.

Public Education Program

What should lake residents do to avoid confrontations with alligators?

Alligators normally avoid humans; they can be perceived as a nuisance when they establish territories around people. In addition, and as Texas’ population continues to expand, there has been an increased number of encounters between people and alligators. Alligators have been known to prey on pets and must be treated with caution. People should:

  • Never feed alligators.
  • Avoid swimming and doing other water activities in areas where alligators are known to exist.
  • Swim only during daylight hours. Alligators are most active during dusk and dawn and night time hours.
  • Avoid disposing of fish scraps or any other food scrap in the water.
  • Closely supervise small children and pets in and around water.
  • Never get close to alligators or their nests.
  • Never agitate or tease alligators.
  • Move away if you hear an alligator hiss. You are too close.

Currently, the city and TPWD are working together to provide more information. For more general alligator information please visit TPWD’s website.

Nuisance Alligators

What is a nuisance alligator?

The mere presence of an alligator does not mean it is a nuisance. The state defines a nuisance alligator as “an alligator that is depredating or a threat to human health or safety”. If you encounter a nuisance alligator call TPWD at 1-800-792-1112 for assistance. Alligators that have been determined to be a nuisance will be removed.

Threat Assessment and Warning System

How will residents continue to receive information?

The Fort Worth Water Department will continue to inform residents about alligators found in the main body of the lake through the various neighborhood association and club leaders around Lake Worth. Information will also be posted on the Water Department’s website www.fortworthgov.org/water.

Lake Worth

Is the lake an original or man-made habitat for alligators?

Lake Worth is a man-made lake built in 1914. It impounds water from the Trinity River, whose channel forms a portion of Lake Worth. Prior to building Lake Worth, alligators were already native to the Trinity River shed and/or region. Moreover, any freshwater with aquatic vegetation and sunning sites is suitable for alligators to habitat.

Why must alligators be tolerated at Lake Worth?

Alligators are a Texas native animal and they are protected by state law.

Containment of Alligators at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge

Can a barrier be erected to keep alligators at the Nature Center?

TPWD prohibits the capturing or containment of alligators. In addition, creating a barrier to contain alligators is not technically feasible thus alligators can easily crawl and swim over them. Barriers would also represent a problem for normal boat traffic.

Why can’t the nature center stop accepting alligators from other locations?

The Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge no longer accepts alligators from other locations and/or agencies.

City of Fort Worth Responsibilities

What is the City of Fort Worth doing to contain and control alligators?

The City is limited by TPWD regulations that prohibit the capturing or harassing of alligators. Alligators are considered free roaming wildlife. The city is NOT responsible for containing them at any location. However, the city WILL respond to emergency calls from residents if alligators attack or threaten to attack individuals or their pets.

Lake Level Controls

What is being done to stabilize lake levels and avoid the increasing alligator movement?

Although the city owns Lake Worth, it does not own the water in it. The water in this lake and others are property of the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD). Consequently, the City has no control over lake levels. However, staff will inform representatives from TRWD about the affects of varying lake levels at Lake Worth to try and find a satisfactory solution regarding alligators.

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