Kaykakers Can’t Believe The Apex Predator Seen In The River

[Mfield, Matthew Field - http://www.photography.mattfield.com, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons]

A group of kayakers in western Pennsylvania recently had to do a double take as he boated along the Kiski River. They thought they saw one of the most ferocious predators in nature, but it was out of place. Swimming in the muddy waters was an alligator.

Theresa Jeroski was kayaking with her husband, Heath Evans, about 4 p.m. when three kayakers ahead of them alerted the couple to an alligator sighting, writes the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“They said, ‘There’s a gator over here,’ ” Jeroski said.

Jeroski filmed a short video of the alligator swimming in the river and approaching her kayak.

“The alligator surfaced near my husband and would submerge. He was swimming around,” Jeroski said. “From far away, it’s very cute. Up close he appeared more playful. He was having a good time, but he doesn’t realize the water will get cold.”

Jersoski, 47, said the alligator seemed to be healthy.

The group of kayakers lingered in the area for about an hour, observing the alligator and attempting to catch it.

The last thing Chief Lee Bartolicius ever thought he’d have to do was wrangle an alligator when he took leadership of the Kiski Township Police Department a couple years ago, btu alligators have become pets in coal country these days. 

He told The Wall Street Journal that he “recently asked two residents if they happened to be missing one of their alligators.

The wellness checks were spurred by reports of a 4-foot alligator in the shallow, swift-moving Kiskiminetas River, a body of water half an hour east of Pittsburgh that is normally alligator-free. Multiple sightings along a 4-mile stretch of the river caused a stir across the region.

‘In western Pennsylvania, none of us have specialized alligator training,” said Bartolicius. “This isn’t something they give you in the police academy.’

In Pennsylvania, the waters of the Kiski were once rust-colored from acid mine drainage, but now they run clear between steep green hills and draw families in kayaks, fly fishers in hip waders and retirees who stroll along a path on the riverbank.

Chief Bartolicius didn’t like the idea of an alligator trolling the area. He organized a search that grew to include the township’s 12 police officers and staff from the state fish and game commission, four fire departments—and about a dozen residents.”

Bartolicius suggested that the alligator spotted on Saturday is likely a younger one. This same alligator had been observed swimming in the Kiski River just two weeks prior, having escaped from its owner. Notably, this sighting occurred approximately a mile north of the location where an alligator, affectionately nicknamed Chomper, was captured in early August. Kayakers had reported sightings of Chomper in late July, leading to its eventual capture. Presently, Chomper resides under the care of a western Pennsylvania reptile rescue organization, where it will play a role in educational programs for students.

Chomper’s capture and the recent sighting of the young alligator illustrate the presence of these unusual reptiles in the region, prompting concerns about their ownership and habitat. The situation highlights the need for responsible pet ownership and conservation efforts to safeguard local wildlife.

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