Gotcha, gator!

A group of Gladewater Middle Schoolers got a bite-sized lesson in wildlife management Tuesday afternoon thanks to a pit-stop by Game Warden Todd Long and a scaly denizen of the local river bottoms.
The American Alligator recently strayed onto a piece of property off Hwy. 271, and Long was all too happy to retrieve it for relocation to a healthier habitat ASAP – after it earned some oos, ahs and a couple of shrieks on-campus.
“We have a sanctuary where some of the wild animals live. This guy will probably go to join some of his kinfolk.”
Naturally, Long made sure the reptile was well-secured in order to give the students an opportunity to get an up-close look and, in most cases, they embraced the chance to hold the leathery critter, albeit briefly.
“I had to hogtie him because he can crawl out of here in a heartbeat,” the local game warden said. Based on the creature’s weight and length, Long estimated the gator’s age at between 4 and 6 years-old: “Depending on their habitat they grow about a foot a year.
“He was found just right here at the Gladewater city limits near the airport. The landowner was just wanting it gone as a nuisance.”
Typically, that kind of request would be handled by someone else, Long added, but it was too good an educational opportunity for him to pass up.
“If it’s in a private lake or private pond we typically just ask the public to leave them alone. They’re on the roam, looking for companions, looking for food. They’ll move on,” Long noted. That said, “This is kind of a segue on wildlife and the importance of Ag.”
Perfect timing – the middle school Ag program is new this year, and GMS Principal Rebecca Lanham is eager to create more Ag education and enrichment opportunities on her campus and across GISD.
“I’ve worked for this seven years before I was principal,” she said. “This year I was gifted with this Ag position that GEDCO pays half of. It gets the kids’ principles class out of the way,” helping them choose a focus between horticulture, Ag mech/metal or wildlife: “When they get to the high school they’re ready to start with their actual pathway.”
Lanham and Long went to school together, both graduating from Gladewater High School.
“He developed a love of all things Agriculture from our Ag teacher, Carl Jackson, which led him eventually down this path,” Lanham said. “Mr. Long is passionate about education regarding wildlife management, and it’s always a treat when he stops by. He has a love for what he does and this area of the country in which he gets to do it.”
Clearly delighted to introduce the kids to the creature, Long was soon on his way to find the alligator a new residence.
“Y’all be safe this summer,” he said, bidding farewell to the swarms of students. “Wear your life jacket if you get out on the lake!”

Facebook Comments