Gator on the loose in Gwinnett

Gwinnett neighbors fret over resident alligator

An alligator that has made itself at home in a Gwinnett County pond has neighbors concerned.

Authorities suspect an alligator this far north did not get there on its own, but started out as a pet that someone dumped in Dunlin Lake, off James Road in Lawrenceville.

However it got there, resident Muhammad Kabir said he’s been watching it for two years.

“It grew a little bit, [but] it’s still small. It’s very cute, too,” Kabir told Channel 2 Action News. He added, though, “he’s going to grow up and eventually can cause trouble.”

Now, it’s about three feet long, and residents are starting to worry about it being so close to their homes. The reptile was visible recently, sunning itself on fallen trees along a lake bank.

Another resident, Pearlie Bashir, said, “I had seen people come and come down I thought they were just fishing and feeding the ducks.”

Neighbors said they have contacted local animal control and the state Department of Natural Resources. DNR officials told Channel 2 on Monday they could not confirm if they have been out to the neighborhood, but said an alligator this size would pose no danger to children or pets.

Bashir said, “Well, baby alligators become big alligators, so I would definitely would want some action to be taken. … There’s no real boundary right here, so he can just come up and go in the backyard.”

Alligator sightings are not uncommon in Gwinnett County. A 5-foot-long gator was captured in May 2010 in a subdivision off Harbins Road in Dacula. Prior alligator sightings include a 2-foot specimen snagged in the Settler’s Cove subdivision in Suwanee in August 2008, and a 5-foot reptile reported in a private pond off Franklin Circle near Dacula in April 2005.

Elsewhere, a 6-foot gator was reported in June 2009 in the Cochran Shoals area of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area near the I-285 bridge on the Cobb-Fulton county line. An 8-foot gator was spotted several times in the same location two years earlier. In the summer of 2008, DNR spent more than a month trying to catch a smaller gator in the Flat Creek area of Lake Lanier. It was finally captured in the yard of a lakeside home.

According to a DNR website on alligators, an estimated 200,000 of the reptiles call Georgia home. They are typically found south of the Fall Line connecting the cities of Columbus, Macon and Augusta. Any of the big reptiles found north of the line likely were relocated there by humans, wildlife officials say.

Male alligators can grow to up to 16 feet in length, and females, up to 10 feet. A large gator can weigh more than 800 pounds.

Between 1980 and October 2001, DNR said, there were eight reported cases of alligator attacks on humans in Georgia – six caused by people stepping on a submerged gator, and only two “a result of the alligator mistaking the human for prey.”

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— Staff writers Andria Simmons and Christian Boone contributed to this article.