7.19-WEB- RTE-Gator.jpg

Contributed photo/Ariel Contreras

Ariel Contreras shot this picture of what she believes was an alligator in Lake Harrison near the weir Wednesday evening.

If you happen to see what you think is an alligator in Lake Harrison, you should know you’re not alone.

According to a Harrison Police daily log, Ariel Contreras called the HPD about 9 p.m. Wednesday to report seeing an alligator in Lake Harrison near the weir. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission officials were also notified.

Contreras told the Daily Times she and her husband, Jesse, were fishing at the lake Wednesday evening. They were about to leave to pick up their children from Vacation Bible School when they saw what she is certain was an alligator.

“It was pretty big,” she said, estimating it to be four to five feet long.

Contreras said she saw the tell-tale spikes on the back of the reptile. She got her phone out as quickly as possible, but the creature had begun to swim away and was partially submerged.

But Contreras also said another woman was present at the time and saw it as well.

“So I guess I’m not crazy,” Contreras said.

Mark Hutchings, AGFC assistant chief of Wildlife Management Division, said the agency was notified about the sighting Wednesday night.

He told the Daily Times that AGFC officials followed up on the report and spoke with the HPD Animal Control division Thursday morning.

Matthew Case, HPD Animal Control officer, said he walked the park area Thursday morning, but he didn’t find any obvious signs of an alligator to make confirmation. He said he will also follow up on any subsequent reported sightings and remain in contact with the AGFC.

Case said there have been cases in which someone begins to keep an alligator as a pet, but they end up releasing it in a body of water when it gets too big to keep.

Hutchings said he reviewed the picture Contreras took Wednesday night and said “it would be very difficult to confirm from the picture that what she saw was an alligator.

But Contreras said she knows what she saw.

“I’m positive of it,” she told the Daily Times.

It wouldn’t be the first time an alligator has been reported in the lake.

About this time of year 10 years ago, two men, one from Florida, the other from Louisiana, reported seeing an alligator in Dry Jordan Creek just upstream from the low-water crossing on Vine Street between Main Street and the Bypass. A handful of people over the next month reported seeing the alligator in the creek or lake.

Authorities said at the time that if they see such a creature in the lake, it shouldn’t be a danger unless it is provoked.

Anyone who thinks they see an alligator in Lake Harrison should call Harrison Police at 741-5463.

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