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Lions and tigers and gators, oh my!
July 26, 2011 - Jim Smith
With temperatures well into the 90s, a heat index over 100 and humidity thick enough to cut with a knife, I was beginning to believe I was back living in south Louisiana. But when a 5-foot alligator was found roaming a residential neighborhood on Quincy Hill Monday, I was sure I had gone to sleep Sunday night and awakened Monday back in Bayou Country.
Living in the Deep South about 20 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and along the Bayou Teche, it was not at all uncommon to see gators in the ditches, coulees or even walking across roads near swampy areas.
My three favorite, true stories about gators are:
A nearly-blind-as-a-bat opthamologist friend who lived along one of the bayous took his morning dip in his backyard pool, heard a splash and yelled to what he thought was his wife. After several attempts to get his "wife"s" attention, the doc got out of the pool, dried off, put a towel around himself and finally put on his glasses ... to discover he had been swimming with a gator. Authorities were summoned and I don't know if the doc ever went swimming again without someone standing guard.
Once on a weekend drive along the south Louisiana wetlands, I didn't see a rather large gator in the shadow-covered road soon enough to avoid running over it. Even though I feared I had ripped the bottom out of my car, I wasn't foolish enough to stop and confront a very angry gator.
After a young boy and his friends returned home from playing in a drainage ditch near their home, the boy told his mother he had been playing with a red-eyed monster. The mother initially thought the boy was using a very vivid imagination ... that is until she went and checked his story, finding an 8-foot, one-eyed gator in the ditch.
Authorities in southwest Louisiana knew how to handle a wayward gator. If it was small, it was captured and set free in any nearby swamp area. If it was big, it was shot, skinned and the meat used -- fried gator is very tasty.
Parkersburg, on the other hand, doesn't even have an ordinance against such wild, exotic animals, meaning the old "lions and tigers and bears, oh my! along with gators would be perfectly legal in the city. City Council needs to get its act toogether and enact legislation barring such animals before someone is hurt or a police officer "accidentally" shoots the gator the next time it gets loose..
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