Hope Mills Lake gator captured

HOPE MILLS The sharp toothed reptile was seen at the foot of the spillway overflow structure of the Hope Mills dam Tuesday.

The five to six foot gator surfaced in Hope Mills Lake earlier this month, causing quite a stir and a ban on swimming in the lake before all the water drained out when the dam failed.

People flocked the shore to catch a glimpse of the animal as wildlife officers say the gator made himself right at home.

"I think he got here and realized it was a target rich environment with beavers and muskrats and everything," NC Wildlife Officer David Banholzer said.

Officers made several attempts this month to catch the gator, but with no luck. Residents spotted the gator down-stream right before the lake's dam failed.

On Tuesday afternoon when it was spotted in a pool of water at the dam's spillway, wildlife officials used probes to poke through the water, which was about four feet deep, to see if they could feel the gator hiding underwater.

For about six hours, wildlife and animal control officers tried to snag the alligator, but he got away. Around 7 p.m. they tried again and caught him as a small crowd of spectators cheered.

Several eyewitnesses snapped photos of the elusive gator.

Officials hauled the alligator to shore and put him in a truck bound for a new home either in Brunswick County or a local animal preserve.

"He was a wild gator," NC Wildlife Capt. Brent Spivey said. "He was evasive to us. I don't think he lost his fear of people."

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