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Huge alligators spotted at Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge

This is at least the second alligator spotting in North Texas this year.

FORT WORTH, Texas — VIral photos captured over the Memorial Day weekend showing three huge alligators just north of Lake Worth sent tingles up the spine of many in North Texas. 

Wildlife photographers Jimmy Martin Jr. and Zach Archibald snapped photos of three gators near Marsh Boardwalk in the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge and shared them on Facebook.

According to the City of Fort Worth, residents have been reporting more alligator sightings over the years along the lower portions of Lake Worth. The Fort Worth Marshal’s Lake Patrol office and The Fort Worth Nature Center (FWNC) said that high water and swift currents could displace the alligator population into lower Lake Worth. 

That makes sense, given the amount of rain North Texas has experienced in the last month.

The lake is now closed due to high water levels until further notice, the CIty of Forth Worth announced Tuesday. 

The city also believes likely 15-25 gators live within the Nature Center; however, it's conducting a study to zero in on a better number. 

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Martin said the gators he spotted were "at least 9-10 feet" long. Take a look:

Credit: Jimmy Martin Jr.
Credit: Jimmy Martin Jr.

Alligators are native to the Trinity River watershed or region, according to the City of Fort Worth. They've been spotted at Lake Worth and Eagle Mountain Lake.

Martin said he hadn't seen any other alligators except for the ones he spotted at the Fort Worth Nature Center. 

He and Archibald have been trying to capture photos of some gators in the Nature Center for months. 

They both began shooting more often during the pandemic. 

"People were telling us online that the pictures were fake or photoshopped," Martin said. "They're very real." 

Archibald said that Martin got to the Nature Center early Saturday and called him when he spotted the gators. 

"I looked at my phone and was like this is not a drill," Archibald said. "I just got my camera and booked it." 

FWNC Rob Denkhaus said it’s been tracking a few gators in the Marsh Boardwalk area for a couple of years now and that they’re pretty far north from the actual general mass of the lake that's just south of Texas State Highway 199.

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Denkhaus said the earliest recorded alligator sighting in Fort Worth was in 1850, so the reptiles have been part of the area's ecosystem for a while.

He said there's no reason to panic, just a call to be cautious. 

"If you're not harassing them, then you're not a food source to them," Denkhaus said. "You have to keep an eye on them as you would in any situation, but there's no recorded incidents whatsoever in this area and very few in the State of Texas." 

In March of this year, an alligator was spotted in an Argyle neighborhood, and another was spotted in Abilene. 

“We have a lot of alligators in Texas, probably more than the general public realizes,” Jonathan Warner, who leads the alligator program for Texas Parks and Wildlife, said at the time.

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If you ever come across an alligator, here are some tips from the City of Fort Worth:

  • Never feed alligators.
  • Avoid swimming and other water activities in areas with large alligators.
  • Swim only during daylight hours.
  • Do not dispose of fish scraps in the water.
  • Closely supervise small children in and around the water.
  • Do not allow pets to swim, exercise or drink in waters where alligators may be found.
  • If you hear an alligator hiss, move away. You are too close.

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