Alligators have inhabited Texas’ marshes, swamps, rivers, ponds and lakes for many centuries – this includes the Sugar Land area.
They are an important part of Texas’ natural history, as well as an integral component of freshwater ecosystems. As Texas residents expand their homes and businesses, encounters between these normally shy reptiles and people are increasing.
Once endangered, alligators were taken off the endangered species list in 1978; however, they are still protected by law. Alligators are found in 10 different states, and here in Texas, they are found in 120 of 254 counties, including Fort Bend.
Springtime is when alligators are most active, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Courtship and mating begins in late spring and continues through early summer. April through July are peak months for nuisance gator calls.
Most Texans who live in “gator country” will live in close proximity to these native reptiles with no confrontations; however, there are occasions when certain alligators become a “nuisance” and must be handled by the proper authorities.
Nuisance alligators include those that kill livestock or pets or threaten human health and safety. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is the only authority that may label an alligator a nuisance because of their protected status.
Citizens should notify local authorities when alligators:
• are in the roadways;
• repeatedly follow boats, canoes or other watercrafts and/or maintain a close distance without submersing; or
• advance toward people walking near water, especially if alligators exit the water.
Sugar Land residents should be watchful of alligators, snakes and other wildlife along the City’s many natural waterways, follow posted signage and share these alligator tips:
• Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits killing, harassing or possessing alligators.
• Never feed or entice alligators, it is dangerous and illegal.
• Don’t throw fish scraps in the water or leave them on shore
• Closely supervise children when they are playing in or around water. Never allow small children to play unsupervised near water.
• Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn when they are feeding. Therefore, swim only during daylight hours.
• Don’t allow pets to swim, exercise or drink in or near waters that may contain alligators. Dogs are more susceptible to being targeted by an alligator than people, because they resemble natural prey. Keep your pet on a leash and in control when walking around the water.
• If you hear an alligator hiss, it is a warning that you are too close
To report a nuisance alligators, citizens should contact their local TPWD game warden at (281)842-8100. Citizens may also contact Sugar Land’s Public Safety Dispatch at (281) 275-2020 or Animal Services at (281) 275-A-DOG for alligators under 6 feet in length on private property such as swimming pools or in roadways. When faced with a life-threatening situation, citizens should immediately call 9-1-1.
Information about alligators, including safety tips for living with alligators, research reports and basic natural history, is on the TPWD Web site: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/species/alligator/index.phtml.