Bob Sargent doesn’t wrangle alligators every day on Robins Air Force Base, but he’s there to trap one of the critters if they pop up.
A wildlife natural resources manager at Robins for the past 14 years, Sargent had been tracking a small female alligator living in Robins’ Duck Lake since summer 2007, and finally got the opportunity to trap the 5-footer last week.
“She’s provided a bit of a challenge for us over the past three summers. We really didn’t want her to take up residence in Duck Lake, and she was getting bigger and bigger as time went by,” Sargent said Tuesday. “Alligators are fairly timid animals, and they try to avoid people. But she was being seen more and more. People were becoming alarmed.”
Soon after capture, Sargent released the alligator in an unpopulated area near the Ocmulgee River.
The alligator probably migrated to the lake via one of the three streams that feed into the body of water, which is in the center of Robins, Sargent said.
Robins has three major lakes — all open to fishing — three streams and a dozen small ponds, Sargent said, “and we are bordered on the eastern side of the base by 2,000 acres of swamp, which provides a natural habitat for a number of wildlife.”
A few times a year, Sargent will have to hunt down an alligator and trap it, he said, then the animal is released in a safer habitat away from people, he said.
“We have a lot of people, here on Robins, that come from all over the world, and they are not used to seeing alligators,” Sargent said. “We are at the northernmost edge of the American alligator’s habitat in the Southeast, and generally they are in places where the public is not.
“This one was different.”
The alligator is a protected animal, Sargent said “not because it is endangered, but because it resembles the American crocodile, which is protected because people poach it. The alligator is protected because there is little distinction between its hide and that of the crocodile.”
The base is home to a number of animals, including 90 species of birds, bears, coyotes, bobcats and gray foxes, Sargent said.
“It’s a wild kingdom out there, for sure,” Sargent said.
To contact writer Shelby G. Spires, call 744-4494.