After an American alligator was caught and killed by a hunter in Calvert County, Md., back in June, there is another alligator on the loose just one county away, in St. Mary’s.
News spread in late August that St. Mary’s County was investigating reports of an alligator in the town of Hollywood, which lies along the Patuxent River. A local wildlife rescue, Gentle Hands Wildlife, spotted the gator after initial reports of its existence surfaced a year earlier on social media.
County Director of Emergency Services Steve Walker says after the report a year ago, county officials did some looking, but couldn’t find a gator, and dismissed it for lack of credible evidence.
But then, Walker tells Bay Bulletin, Dave Edwards of Gentle Hands walked down to the pier in an area of Hollywood he goes to frequently, and “in between the pier and the boat was the alligator. Of course it felt the vibrations of him being there and it immediately submerged.”
Walker isn’t just taking Edwards’ word for it: there is photographic proof (that the county is hesitant to share for fear the gator’s location would be revealed and someone would target it). A county employee who is a drone enthusiast has a picture of the animal, which Walker estimates is about 8 feet.
Edwards has taken it upon himself to come up with a plan to trap the gator. But unlike the ill-fated 7.5-foot-long alligator trapped just north of Drum Point in Calvert County, this reptile would be relocated to Florida instead of killed. Edwards has authorization to capture the gator from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, but the agency stipulates it must be transported elsewhere.
So far, Edwards hasn’t been successful in catching it.
“He is actually seeing it fairly frequently but he just can’t get it trapped,” Walker says. The county could destroy the alligator, but it hasn’t posed any specific threat to humans so far, so Walker sees no need to at this time. “If it really did become a threat, it’s likely we would consider destroying it.”
Walker is tight-lipped about the gator’s location, but does tell us it’s been seen in Hollywood, in a small body of water surrounded by woodlands, with about three or four homes within walking distance.
“What I suspect is there’s a lot of turtles, a lot of fish in there. It’s well fed,” Walker says. He speculates someone had a small alligator that they brought to the waterway and released. As large as it is, he thinks it may have been there longer than a year.
While Edward keeps trying to track down the gator, he and Walker stay in close touch.
-Meg Walburn Viviano & Cheryl Costello