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5-foot alligator seen paddling around the waters of northern Westmoreland County's Beaver Run Reservoir has startled passers-by.

"Our security people spotted an alligator there about a month ago, and we haven't found it yet," Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County manager Chris Kerr said.

300px-Snow gator

Loren Coleman, posted an article on the beast on March 26th, 2012.

Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County workers say they’ve seen the alligator in the Beaver Run Reservoir water with just the top of its body visible above the water line.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is reporting today that a 5-foot alligator seen paddling around the waters of northern Westmoreland County’s Beaver Run Reservoir has startled passers-by. “Our security people spotted an alligator there about a month ago, and we haven’t found it yet,” Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County manager Chris Kerr said.

The reservoir, with 25 miles of shoreline, is a primary source of drinking water provided by the authority to more than 125,000 customers. It is on a 5,000-acre parcel in Bell, Salem and Washington townships.

Kerr said the fenced reservoir is off limits to the public and not close enough to homes to raise concerns about the alligator harming anyone. He said the authority has taken no steps to alert the public about the alligator and does not plan to search for it.

“We contacted the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and asked them about it. They said it’s not uncommon for some pet owners to leave a reptile in the water once they decide they don’t want it anymore,” Kerr said.

He said commission officials assured authority personnel that the alligator, not used to the cold, northern environment, will not survive the winter.

“Because it’s not native to this area, it won’t survive. It’s too cold, and the alligator is not meant to survive in this kind of coldness,” said Eric Levis, spokesman for the Fish and Boat Commission.

But “obviously, stay away from it if you see it,” he said.

Pictures of the alligator have surfaced, including one obtained by authority workers. Some say they’ve seen the alligator sunning itself on the reservoir’s banks and feeding on fish. Others have seen it in the water with just the top of its body visible above the water line. The alligator has not displayed any aggressiveness, Kerr said.

Ray Bamrick, lead reptile keeper at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, said even a 5-foot alligator could do considerable damage to a human and urges caution by anyone who sees the reptile.

Bamrick said although the alligator may survive through October and even into November, he agrees that ultimately, its days are numbered.

“It’s fine right now, but as it gets cold at night and over days of cold temperature it cannot last. It will eventually die if it is not captured. It won’t take long,” he said. The Beaver Run Alligator might still be alive. Experts expected that the alligator, which workers at Beaver Run Reservoir spotted in the fall, wouldn't survive the usually harsh temperatures of a Western Pennsylvania winter.

But Mother Nature might have given it a break.

"This is the mildest winter I can remember," said Henry Kacprzyk, curator of reptiles at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. "In order for it to die, you would have to have some sustained cold weather.

"I would say there's a possibility it survived." According to the National Weather Service, the average temperature this winter was 34.6 degrees — about 4.2 degrees higher than normal. Zoo officials believe the alligator was dropped off at the reservoir by someone who had kept it as a pet and couldn't take care of it anymore.The fate of the "Beaver Run Gator" caused a stir last fall when officials at the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County said they would let it die during the winter.

After public outcry and a Facebook page supporting the alligator, municipal officials allowed Pittsburgh zoo workers onto reservoir property in hopes of capturing the alligator and sending it to a sanctuary in Florida. The reservoir usually is closed to the public.

Multiple attempts to capture the gator were unsuccessful. Some observers said the animal was 5 feet long, but zoo officials said people tend to overestimate size.

Kacprzyk said the only way to know if the alligator made it through the winter is if someone spots it. That hasn't happened yet, said Gina Cerilli, spokeswoman for the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.

"We always have security looking over our property," she said. "None of our employees have seen the alligator."

Judy Lindberg, a retired Penn State New Kensington professor who lives less than four miles from the reservoir, in Washington Township, said the alligator has become the subject of local lore.

"People call it the Loch Ness Monster," she said. "Most people around here think it was cruel to just let it die during the winter, so we hope it survived." Could the alligator still be lurking in the 25-mile-long reservoir?

"Until someone sees it, we don't really know," Kacprzyk said.

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