Officials warn of alligator found living in metro Atlanta reservoir

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

An alligator has been spotted in a drinking water reservoir and fishing destination in the metro Atlanta area, Coweta County officials said.

The gator sighting was confirmed by an employee of the Coweta Water and Sewage Authority in the B.T. Brown Reservoir north of Newnan, according to the authority’s human resources director, Mandy Sledd. The employee spotted the animal while performing a scheduled inspection of the reservoir.

Sledd said the authority called the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, but the state agency is not allowed to relocate alligators. That job can only be performed by a state-licensed alligator trapper.

The only licensed trapper in the area, Jason Clark, visited the reservoir but said he could not remove the alligator until its territory was better understood, according to Sledd. Once the reptile’s habits and patterns were better documented, Clark might be able to catch it, he told Channel 2 Action News.

Alligators have been found in metro Atlanta before, and about 170 nuisance gators are removed in the state each year, according to the DNR’s website. Most live below the fall line in Georgia, which divides the state’s piedmont and coastal plain regions and runs roughly from Columbus through Macon to Augusta.

According to a DNR fact sheet, “There is no evidence that alligator populations reproduce north of the fall line and any found in these areas have probably been relocated by humans.”

Though county officials have installed warning signs at the B.T. Brown Reservoir, alligator attacks are extremely rare in Georgia. Only one fatality has been reported, in 2007, according to the DNR. A majority of attacks happen when an unwitting human steps on one of the camouflaged reptiles. That lone fatality came in the midst of Georgia’s worst-ever recorded drought when gators were likely to search out suitable habitats.

For now, Coweta residents will want to keep an eye out for the alligator when visiting the quiet reservoir. Anyone who encounters it or has further questions for the DNR may call 1-800-366-2661.