Allatoona Alligator

Four-foot gator terrorizes Little River

GON Staff | July 20, 1989

The crisis is over; the kids are safe; the Allatoona alligator has been captured

The story started in mid-June with the first reports called into the Northwest Region Game and Fish Division office of an alligator sighting at Lake Allatoona. The menacing gator was reportedly lurking near Little River Landing—specifically in the first cove on the left up Little River above the Hwy 205 bridge.

Game and Fish biologists were skeptical at first, but on the last weekend in June, Wildlife Biologist Sid Painter went to Allatoona to check it out. Sid and one of the operators of Little River Marina eased into the cove by boat, and sure enough, there was a gator floating on the surface at the back of the cove. The gator submerged and eluded capture in the flooded timber at the back of the cove. Allatoona was about 6 feet above full pool at the time.

The following week, Sid was back to the cove one afternoon to try to catch the gator. The alligator, however, was nowhere to be found, either during daylight or by spotlight after dark.

Word of the Allatoona gator spread; local media picked up the story and the hysteria continued to build. One frightened woman called in to report that three of her ducklings had disappeared. Certainly the gator was responsible. Pets were kept indoors. Children were forbidden to swim in the lake.

Finally, on the evening of July 11, the Allatoona alligator was captured single-handedly (and illegally) by a man who went into the cove and put out chicken livers on a limb line. The citizens who use Lake Allatoona were again safe; the monster had been captured, the mini-monster that is. The gator that had terrorized Allatoona measured all of 4 feet long and weighed less than 10 pounds.

Sid picked up the Allatoona alligator the next morning. The gator, unhurt by a hook in the lip, was destined for release in a beaver pond on private property.

Despite seeming proof to the contrary, Lake Allatoona is not considered habitat for alligators. The normal range of the alligator in Georgia is south of the Fall Line, roughly a line from Columbus to Macon to Augusta. The Allatoona gator likely made it to the lake by way of Interstate 75 as a passenger in someone’s car.

“We get about one alligator call a year,” said Sid. “Last year we took one out of a farm pond in Walker County; the year before that there was one in a pond near Pine Log. We assume people keep them as pets until they got too big to manage, and then they just turned them loose.”

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