Residents who live around Sherwood Lake in Woodland Hills have an elusive "friend" who they would love to catch.
A three to four foot alligator was spotted last fall by Hardy Mayor Nina Thornton while they were on a paddle boat in the lake and has been seen numerous times by different people in the area during the week of June 20-26. Thornton said when she spotted it, she only told a few people because she didn't think it would survive.
Tuesday, June 23, Deb DeValcourt, a Woodland Hills resident, spotted the alligator as she was mowing. Thornton said she was on the way to Jonesboro to talk to KAIT-8 when DeValcourt called her telling her about the gator. Thornton laughed and said, "Deb is from Louisiana and she knows what alligators are."
After examining the area, a slide (an area where the reptile slides into the water) was spotted and Hardy Police Chief Ernie Rose and representatives from Arkansas Game and Fish set a trap for the elusive creature.
Wednesday, Thornton said that Ashton Hester called and said he had seen the gator from a dock and it was "swimming all over." Thornton said by the time she got down there to take a picture of it, it had went under the water and the creature did not show up on her picture.
The sneaky gator was spotted again on Thursday morning. Thornton said they think it has moved from its original location. Because alligators feed at night, Thornton, Rose and other volunteers, as well as Game and Fish representatives have been "gator hunting" late into the night.
She said that Sunday, Game and Fish set another trap and during the night, while on a boat looking for the creature, Thornton saw a set of red eyes, but not the gator.
Once captured, the gator will be moved to a more alligator friendly area.
She said that when people see the gator, it would hiss at them. To those who may have doubts about whether the creature is actually an alligator, Thornton says, "Without a doubt, it is an alligator." She said she wasn't sure how the reptile ended up in the lake, but she hopes someone hasn't let a pet loose, allowing it to grow in the lake.
News reports after Hurricane Katrina and other hurricanes and floods have said that these creatures could wind up much further north due to the extreme amount of floods caused by hurricanes and storms over the last few years.
Mayor Thornton wants to stress that Sherwood Lake is a privately owned lake and only owners who pay dues may access the waters to search for the creature.