BOUTTE, La. (WVUE) - A swampy area of St. Charles Parish has become a congregation spot of alligators and onlookers alike.
“My reaction was like wow! Because I haven’t seen this many,” Jaraun White said, peaking over a fence and into the water below, where a horde of alligators swam Monday (July 8).
Video captured over the weekend showing dozens of gators swimming close to the fence is what caused people to stop by the Davis Pond Diversion Monday, where many gators were still out there catching fish.
Jeb Linscombe manages the Fur and Alligator Program within the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and said while it’s not unusual to see alligators near the I-310 exit to Boutte, the spillway opening is attracting a larger number of them.
“Any time you have water movement like that, what’s going to happen is all different types of fish, from the tiny, tiny little bait fish to larger fish are going to move to that moving water to feed," Linscombe said. “So, it’s going to attract alligators there to feed on those fish.”
Gators typically stay away from people, Linscombe said, but because onlookers have been feeding them, the gators -- much like ducks at a park -- swim up in hopes of being fed.
“Alligators typically tend to be fearful of humans,” Linscombe said. “But if you feed them enough, they will become, not necessarily aggressive, to you, but they’re going to come towards you, because they think you have something to feed them.”
He said while the food may not be harmful towards them, feeding the gators trains them to feel comfortable close to humans, which poses a safety concern.
With the spillway set to close this month, wildlife officials said the gators may not be out there for long.
“You’re going to see some when it’s closed," Linscome said. “but again, those animals, after it’s closed, they will eventually disperse back to their normal habitats."
Wildlife officials also discourage people from enticing alligators from their natural ecosystems.
Those who encounter alligators should contact wildlife and fisheries.