CLEVELAND, Texas – A nearly 12-foot alligator held up traffic Monday on Highway 59 near the east fork of the San Jacinto River Bridge in Cleveland.
“I got a phone call from the (sergeant) here in town, and (he) said, 'Hey there’s a big, large alligator in the middle of 59,'" Contract Cowboy Chance Ward said.
Ward found the alligator, nicknamed George, on the busy freeway just before midnight and helped police wrangle the reptile.
Ward said the gator was aggressive and so it took a while to capture, but Ward said he carefully used a rope on all four of the animal's legs.
“We were joking about should we read him his rights or things like that,” Ward said.
He taped the gator's mouth shut, then, EMS let Ward use a stretcher to load the alligator into the back of Ward's flatbed truck.
Ward said it was so much work to wrangle the gator that they had to stop at a Texas fast-food staple to grab a drink.
“Only in Texas will you see a gator and a Whataburger in the same picture,” he said.
Ward said that he has worked with livestock and wildlife since he was a child and has gained all he knows from the experience.
“If you get your arm bit off, you learn don’t do that again,” Ward said.
When drivers and police spotted this beast, it seemed they knew exactly who to call.
“It seems like the wilder they are, the better we like them. Most people fear them, and we dive in and go to them,” he said.
Expect to see more alligators this time of year. They’re waking up from a reptilian form of hibernation called Brummation. They need to warm up their bodies in order to metabolize their food. Gator Chance of Gator Squad explains what happens to alligators this time of year.
“Once their metabolism and body warmth hits a certain temperature in the 80s, then they'll go into a feeding mode. From feeding mode they go into breeding mode,” Ward said.
Alligators mate in May and June says Ward. The females lay their eggs in July.
So why was George crossing the road?
“An alligator could have been crossing the road looking for a girlfriend there,” Ward said. “He might have been chilling on the road because the road soaks up the sun’s heat from the entire day, so it's a hot rock at night.”
Ward thinks old George could have been out looking for a girlfriend. He’s got a big pond to fish in … being on the Trinity River.
Ward posted video early Monday afternoon showing George being released back into the wild on the banks of the Trinity River.
“The closest major Highway is over 20 miles away,” Ward said in the Facebook post. “Let’s hope he finds him a pretty lady and stays.”
It was not immediately known where George was headed or where he was coming from since mating season doesn’t start until August.