Saturday, 26 March 2011

Alligator reportedly sighted in Adair County

This photo, provided by the Adair County Sheriff's Office, shows what is reported to be an alligator seen in Adair County near Watts. Courtesy
By SHEILA STOGSDILL World Correspondent
Published: 3/26/2011 2:26 PM
Last Modified: 3/26/2011 3:13 PM

WATTS — Adair County law enforcement officers and state game wardens believe the reported sighting of an alligator in a muddy stream near Watts may have some teeth and not be an outrageous fish tale.

Believed to be an alligator because of the fresh water surroundings, the gator has been spotted in a muddy oxbow near Ballard Creek, just off the Illinois River, near Watts. The stream is not used for boating or canoeing or any other recreational uses, said Chris Reese, who saw the alligator on March 18.

“I was driving down the road — daydreaming when I noticed a bunch of turtles on a log,” Reese said. “One of the turtles was beaten up pretty bad — then I saw a gator on the bank.”

When the 27-year-old Army veteran took a second look, the four- to five-foot long reptile scurried into the muddy stream. Reese said he and two other men were about 100 feet away from alligator.

“We all just looked at each other in disbelief,” Reese said.

Reese tried to get a photo with his cell phone of the alligator, but missed the shot. The men later returned to the area later that day and saw the alligator for a second time, he said.

Pretty soon word spread throughout the tiny town of over 300 about the alligator. A friend of Reese’s family also saw the alligator and was able to take a photograph, which was provided to law enforcement. The woman asked not to be identified and has declined to be interviewed.

While there is an alligator population in McCurtain County in the southeast corner of the state, it’s rare to ever see an alligator in eastern Oklahoma.

State game wardens Cody Youngblood and Jared Cramer are taking the sighting serious.

Neither warden has seen the alligator but Cramer said he has received multiple reports of sightings. Both men believe the alligator was a pet and someone released it.

Read more in Sunday's Tulsa World.

By SHEILA STOGSDILL World Correspondent

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