By TOM WOERNER
Of The Record Staff
Ducks, fish, turtles and other familiar wildlife are often seen in and around what people know as the Angier Lake in Jack Marley Park, but one creature recently got the attention of an Angier resident. The resident says she saw what she knows is an alligator taking a leisurely swim in the cool waters, though town officials have not confirmed the sighting. Jana Gregory said she has spent a lot of time in the Topsail Island area of North Carolina where alligators are known to live and knows what the large, ancient and distinctive reptiles look like. That is why she is certain what she saw while in the park one day last week, even though town officials are skeptical.
“I saw the eyes, I saw the snout and the ripples on his back,” she said. “I know what an alligator looks like and there is no question that is what I saw.”
She also said she doesn’t believe its’ another familiar reptile that is known to live in the waters.
“There are a lot of turtles out there, but this was no turtle,” Mrs. Gregory said.
Mrs. Gregory said the alligator was in the middle of the lake, swimming and not bothering anyone. She described it as “not a baby. but maybe not a full grown adult gator.”
She said she has concerns because of the large number of people outside at the pond in the spring.
“It was close to some of the fields where children play, and that is scary,” Mrs. Gregory said.
Angier Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Blaze Cameron said he regularly monitors the pond looking for problem areas including beavers and has not seen an alligator. He thinks it is likely another reptile.
“I would think if there is one there I would have seen it, and I haven’t seen anything,” Mr. Cameron said. “I know there is a snapping turtle down there whose neck is as big as my forearm and someone might have mistaken that for an alligator.”
Mr. Cameron said the turtle’s large shell is similar looking to the back of an alligator.
Mr. Cameron also said he knows that beavers have been seen in the area also.
Though swimmers are not a familiar site at the pond, fishermen often line the banks of the bond.
A large number of ducks nest on the banks of the pond at night and often draw families who feed them.
It is not unheard of for alligators to be seen in the local area. Several years ago an alligator was detained on N.C. 87 in the western part of Harnett County. In that incident, a pet alligator escaped and grew to several feet long before it was captured. Wildlife officials took that alligator to an area near Lake Waccamaw in eastern North Carolina.
Many in the Angier area also remember an alligator that reportedly lived in a pond on N.C. 55 near what is now known as Johnson’s Landing in Wake County.