Law enforcement officers are often figuratively up to their behinds in alligators, as the saying goes, but Monday it was true.
Shortly after sunrise, a nearly 4-foot alligator was spotted near the walking track by the ballfields in Central City Park.
After making sure morning walkers stayed a safe distance away, Bibb County sheriff’s deputy Clay Williams and Animal Welfare officer Bruce Rozier rounded up the gator with the help of a catch pole.
“You’re under arrest,” a Macon-Bibb parks and recreation employee joked as Williams had the reptile down on its back as Rozier wound electrical tape around its snout.
Williams straddled the alligator and held its jaws closed, letting one hand go briefly to activate the microphone on his body camera.
The perturbed alligator lashed its tail back and forth, catching Williams on the hand.
“I feel that tail. You quit it,” Williams told the alligator, who was resisting being taken into custody. “He kept trying to get his tail in between my legs.”
The officers loaded the writhing gator into an Animal Welfare vehicle to be relocated away from the park.
After waiting for backup, Williams and Rozier drove down to the swamp.
“We’re going to work in reverse,” Williams said. “We’ll put the catch pole on him and then remove the tape.”
Rozier had the gator’s head snared with the pole as Williams reached in the truck and grabbed the animal by the head and tail.
As the gator wrestled, the tape and the catch pole came off, leaving Williams with the gator by the tail.
He swung the reptile toward the water.
“He’s loose. The tape’s off,” William said as the alligator landed on a muddy bank, where fresh alligator tracks led to the water. “The more we stand here, the more aggravated he’s going to get.”
Animal Welfare officer Rebecca Galeazzo took the catch pole to prod the alligator into the water, so it would not come back up to the road.
“Hissssss,” the gator vented as she got the catch pole around his neck.
“Come on,” she said, as she continued to push it toward the water.
“Almost there,” she said as the gator snapped its jaws and slowly took a few steps from the marshy bank.
“Let him go. He’s down there. He’s at the water,” Williams said.
“There he goes,” Galeazzo said, as she watched him slink into the water.
Back on the dirt road, Rozier took a look at the bite marks on the pole.
“He did more damage than a dog would,” he said.
“Just a little bit,” Galeazzo replied.
Williams urged everyone not to mess with alligators.
“If you see an alligator out in the wild, do not try to approach them. Do not throw anything at them,” he said. “Usually they will leave people alone. Because we are so tall, they try to leave us alone because we don’t look like their normal food.”