Story by Lance Cpl. Nikki Phongsisattanak
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - It stalks prey near the edge of fresh water shorelines. A reptile that hasn’t evolved since its ancestors that lived with dinosaurs; the only thing that’s changed is its size.
Most would people would be amazed to see a dinosaur-like creature in their yard or pool; reports and concern of their presence start to grow as more are spotted.
“We’ve got several calls about alligators that have been observed near storm-water ponds, small ponds and lying on a bank,” said Marty Korenek, a wildlife manager with the Land and Wildlife Resources aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. “People are not aware of how common [alligators] are so when they see them they over react.”
Korenek said alligators were one of many species, at one point, that were hunted to near extinction. He added that we’re starting to see more alligators because they’ve been maintaining a healthy population that is growing.
People have been calling to report alligators that normally inhabit. The staff with the Land and Wildlife Resources center won’t hesitate to go out and relocate alligators that are in areas that my endanger people or themselves.
“If we get a call about an alligator, we’ve got the equipment and the skills to go out and catch and relocate the animal,” said Korenek. “We move them for two reasons; one reason is to protect people and the second is to protect the alligator.”
Alligators are a protected species that are not legal to hunt or fish. There haven’t been any recent alligator attacks and it usually happens when people provoke the animal.
There are many reasons why gators may approach people. Korenek said alligators are about to acclimatizing to human contact. Alligators may learn and get into the habit of thinking that humans can provide a food source, and this isn’t a message we want to send. They won’t be as shy as and the likelihood of gators approaching people may glow, this is why the people with the Land and Wildlife Resources center wants to get the word out “not to feed the alligators.”
“People need to recognize that alligators are wildlife that are part of our environment, so we got to learn to live with wildlife,” said Korenek. “If you spend any time out in or near the water, it is likely that you’ll see an alligator. Alligators are a part of Camp Lejeune.”
If you have a problem with an alligator, please call the Land and Wildlife Resources center, and let the professionals handle it. They are trained to know how to properly handle the wildlife. They want to protect the community and ensure that no one is hurt.
For any questions or concerns about the wildlife aboard Marine Corps bases, please call 451-7238.