By Alton Mitchell
Alligators in the Chambers and Troup County area is a rarity unless it is near football season and few local self-proclaimed Florida Gator fans have found themselves a little farther north than Gainesville. However an online video from a local popular lake has caused the theory that alligators don’t live in this area come into question.
A video has been uploaded and gone viral locally showing a moderate sized alligator that is estimated to be around five feet long sunbathing on the shoreline last week on West Point Lake. The lake is a natural boundary between Alabama and Georgia and borders both Chambers and Troup Counties. As the majority of the state’s boundary is defined by the Chattahoochee River, West Point Lake forms out of the lake.
The Chattahoochee River is known as a popular location to see alligators, however many of the encounters and viewings of these magnificent reptiles occurs south of a natural boundary known as the fall line. The fall line is a natural geographic occurrence located near Columbus where a gently sloping region loss elevation rapidly from north to south this resulting in a series of waterfalls. The fall line was the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean during the Mesozoic Era about 65.5 million years ago.
South to the fall line the viewing of alligators is quite common including areas such as the national wildlife area near Eufaula where large alligators are the norm in the massive lake located about 70 miles south of Lanett. However when alligators start making their way into West Point Lake it becomes a bit of a concern as the viewings are rare.
Officials actually state that alligators in West Point Lake is not out of the norm it is a bit uncommon, but they are viewable from time to time in the lake. The reptiles are territorial with one another especially in males and will travel out of normal areas to avoid confrontation with other alligators.
Other events can also cause alligators to change their location include changes in habitats and food sources. Some have even went as far as to blame events such as global warming as being a culprit behind the relocation of animals to areas where they are not normally seen. No matter the reason the camera does not lie and as of right now there are alligators present in West Point Lake. As temperatures rise and more people begin to venture out to the lake for some fun in the sun it is encouraged that humans try not to interact with alligators especially by feeding them. Feeding them can result in alligators attempting more interactions with humans which can be tragic for alligators or humans.
Officials also believe that the videotaped alligator in West Point Lake shows a gator of about five feet in length which means that it is not a man eater, but rather an alligator that feeds on small creatures such as insects, birds, snakes, fish, and turtles. Usually larger gators in the size of 7 to 8 feet normally are the only ones with the ability to feed on humans, but still attempt to avoid humans where possible. Areas in the south end of the Chambers County near Lake Harding are also known for being habitats for alligators although larger ones usually stay south of the fall line area and will rarely make it into the Chambers County area.