Boulevard gator: Sunning reptile creates stir at KOA on Island

HARLINGEN — He was just looking for a little hot action.

When it’s 53 degrees and you’re cold-blooded, a sunny spot next to Padre Boulevard is exactly what you’re hoping to find.

A male alligator was removed from near the entrance to the KOA Campground on South Padre Island on Sunday morning, where he was basking after an unseasonably chilly start to the morning.

So the gator was what? About 10 or 12 feet?

“It’s like a fish story, it gets bigger by the day,” said Laura Walton, assistant park manager at KOA, who clarified on Monday the alligator was about a 4-footer. “We were out clearing some trash out there at the boulevard, trying to keep everything beautiful, and he was just out there sunning, enjoying the beautiful weather here.”

“We didn’t want a tourist to just happen to walk up on him because he was pretty close to the road,” she added. “We called the local police department and they got the local alligator sanctuary involved and they came down and got him for us and took him down there. His name is now ‘Brooks.’ After our GM here in the Park. That’s Tom.”

First responders initially called the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which specializes in removing problem gators, but were told it would be a few hours before they could make it to the Island.

Officers from the South Padre Island Police Department then put in a call to the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center and Alligator Sanctuary.

A team from the nature center swooped in and corralled the gator and took it away without any complications.

“This alligator had been seen around Sea Ranch Marina for the past month or so, maybe a little longer, and this is a common thing,” said Britney Marchan, environmental educator and assistant manager at the nature center. “If alligators live around where you live, and you clean your fish and you throw the scraps into the water, that’s like free, easy pickings for an alligator.”

“It becomes habituated and starts to get very comfortable in an area where people are recreating a lot, and that’s when it becomes a nuisance,” she added.

Marchan said she and her staff have been trained by licensed alligator trappers and are cleared to apprehend and remove alligators 6 feet and under.

This one was obviously habituated to people since it showed “zero fear” of her capture crew or police and about 20 onlookers clustered nearby, she said.

“We were able to walk right to it and touch it,” she said, adding that the gator has now become one of about 60 alligators at the sanctuary just down the road.

“He’s down there, and has himself a nice little pond,” KOA’s Walton said.