DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — The Fortner gator, now famous, went viral after people began sharing their own gator stories and experiences on social media.
“I saw a picture posted on Facebook by a friend of mine and so I knew it was right down by my house,” resident Steve Hamner said. “I went down there to take a look and, sure enough, the alligator was right exactly where he had taken the picture.”
Since the picture was posted, several people have commented that they’ve seen the gator and not for the first time.
“Truthfully that gator has been down there for quite a few years,” Hamner told News 18. “I had seen that gator, or another one, down there several years ago so he’s been living there for quite a while.”
Now questions remain: how long has the alligator been there and how did it get there?
WDHN contacted a local conservation officer to find out.
“I’ve encountered them just about everywhere,” said Conservation Enforcement Officer Stacy Lush. “It’s probably been there the whole time and it’s just now starting to cool down a little bit. So it will come out and sun.”
With so many people spotting the alligator from the bridge and then stopping to take pictures, officials remind residents that’s all they should do.
“(You) don’t need to be harassing it in any way, throwing rocks or sticks at it or anything like that,” Lush said. “Just take your picture and go about your business.”
In the meantime, it seems as though this gator can sit back and enjoy its newfound fame.
“He’s just got a nice habitat down there,” Hamner said. “I think he’s probably got plenty of food because he looks fat enough.”
Wildlife officials are warning residents to remember that it is illegal to feed alligators, possess them, or try to harm them.