Alligator prowling in Hope Mills Lake

HOPE MILLS The reptile was circling just outside the swimming area, but that didn't stop scores of people from coming to the lake to lie on the grass and lay eyes on the gator.

"I was going to lie out for a while in the sun," Hope Mills Resident Lois Adams said. "My niece ... was on the way over here, so I just called them and they are excited about it. They are coming to lie out today also."

Hope Mills Police have banned anyone from going into the water to swim and spent Wednesday morning warning residents who have the lake in their backyards about the gator.

"The best advice is stay away from the alligator," Hope Mills Police Chief Robert Hassell said. "Do not try to feed it. Do not try to go towards it. Contact emergency officials, call the police department, the fire department, contact us and let us come and assess the situation."

The alligator appears to be about five to six feet long. Authorities believe construction near streams that feed the lake may have run the reptile away from were it normally lives.

State wildlife biologists are taking a wait and see attitude about the alligator. They want to see if it'll head back into its swampy habitat before coming to Hope Mills to decide whether it needs to be removed.

That means the lake is off limits to swimmers until then, but non-motorized boats are still allow in the water.

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