Overflowing rivers push 9-foot alligator into Northeast Arkansas

Updated: May. 11, 2019 at 2:56 PM CDT
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GRUBBS, Ark. (KAIT) - An unwanted guest found his way to a rice field in Jackson County and according to the sheriff, he wasn’t there alone.

All the rain we’ve had here in Region 8 has caused a few problems.

Flooded roads and fields, overflowing rivers, and now it looks like a new problem has popped up after an alligator found himself farther north than we’d expect.

Frank Pierce and his family stumbled upon a nine-foot alligator Thursday, enjoying some sunshine in a rice field in Northeast Arkansas.

“Me and my brother and my wife and daughter were going fishing and we come around the curve and he was laying out there in the field,” said Pierce.

Something that sounded a little hard to believe to Jackson County Sheriff David Lucas.

“When we first got the call, we thought well this is some kind of prank or a log or something because you just don’t see gators this far north,” said Lucas.

When Sheriff Lucas got to the area, he quickly realized it wasn’t a prank.

“Looked out in the field and saw it sitting there and I thought now, I don’t know what we’re going to do,” said Lucas.

He got on the phone with Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to find out their next step.

“They were all surprised to see one this far north,” said Lucas.

With the amount of rain Arkansas has had this year Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife biologist Mark Barbee said it’s not out of the question to see an alligator this far north.

“What’s happened is with all the recent rainfall, it’s just displaced him out of the river system is what’s happening," said Barbee.

Frank Pierce said he’s seen alligators in the area in the past.

“I’ve done seen some before around Grubbs fishing,” said Pierce.

The nine-foot gator also wasn’t the only one in the field on Thursday.

“They found one over there on that ditch bank over there that was four-foot long,” said Pierce.

AGFC originally wanted to just let the alligator find his own way back to the river, but with the number of people who had gathered to see it on Thursday, Sheriff Lucas was concerned about safety.

“We finally decided we were going to try to catch it and have Game and Fish relocate it,” said Lucas.

But, after a couple of hours, and an unsuccessful attempt at catching the animal, it escaped into a wooded ditch.

“There’s a chance you’ll never lay eyes on him again,” said Barbee.

The area the alligator escaped to isn’t connected to any open water systems, which could mean it’s still in the area.

Sheriff Lucas said if anyone sees it to stay away from it and give the Sheriff’s Department or AGFC a call.

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