An alligator refuge in southeast Texas is warning residents of a possible alligator outbreak as rising floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey risk the escape of roughly 350 gators into the region.
Staff at Gator Country in Beaumont, TX have been busy patrolling the watery grounds of the 15-acre preserve as water from Hurricane Harvey’s rain inches closer to the top of fences that enclose the reptiles. As of Monday evening, none had gotten loose.
As of Monday evening, none had gotten loose. But with rainfall not expecting to let up until Friday, the team over at Gator Country are fearful the gators could possibly escape into the nearby region.
“We’re less than a foot from going over the fences. All of these are certified high fences, but look ― when it won’t quit, it won’t quit,” Gary Saurage, who founded the sanctuary in 2005, told local station KFDM during a tour on Monday.
According to HuffPost, Saurage assured neighbors that not all of the sanctuary’s animals risk escape.
“The good news is, we caught all of our crocodiles, all of our venomous snakes,” he said. “Everything that is not from here, we have put up and moved to a safe place.”
Two 13-foot alligators named Big Al and Big Tex were placed in trailers, where they will stay until the flooding subsides, Saurage said.
Saurage has also posted an alert on Facebook requesting help moving the two gators.
Still, Saurage acknowledged that the majority of the sanctuary’s gators will be at risk of escape if water continues to rise. According to the sanctuary’s website, it says more than 450 reptiles live there.
Saurage says the hurricane has now washed away more than 12 years of work he’s spent catching the reptiles from people’s backyards, ponds, and swimming pools.
Anyone who sees a gator is urged to wait until the water recedes before going into the area.
The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office advised Twitter followers to “expect them to be displaced. Simply looking for higher ground.”
Saurage Beaumont Enterprise that he is currently unable to respond to calls about gator sightings for the time being.
“I’m focused on containing all our gators here,” he said.