SAN BENITO — Gemma, the black Labrador, barked all night Saturday. That’s unusual.
So, Sunday morning, Rogerio Villarreal went out to his backyard to see what was causing her to be so noisy.
That’s when he discovered a nearly 10-foot alligator just a few feet away from the dog.
No one knows exactly how the alligator got into the backyard, but the family believes it climbed over the chain link fence. Years ago, Villarreal had dug a concrete trench around the yard and embedded the fence into the cement so Gemma would stop digging herself out.
Sylvia Villarreal said her father lives on North Sam Houston Boulevard near the intersection of Castillo and Amigo roads. There’s a resaca a few hundred yards away and that’s where the alligator may have come from.
She said the family called Texas Parks and Wildlife to report the alligator. When the first game warden showed up, he was amazed by the size and quickly called for backup. Then those game wardens asked for more backup.
The alligator was nestled between the fence and a storage shed and wouldn’t budge. When the game wardens put a rope around the animal’s head it twisted violently.
“It took them about two hours by the time they figured out what they were going to do,” she said.
Sylvia said she could tell the alligator was scared because it would hiss anytime someone got close.
Game wardens finally got the gator into the yard and put a towel over its eyes.
“They decided on the count of three they were going to jump on the alligator and that’s what they did. They jumped on him all in a row on top of him.”
After securing the gator’s mouth and feet they realized it was too heavy to pick up so they moved one of the game warden’s trucks into a small ditch and made a ramp on the tailgate and slid the gator into the bed of the truck.
The game wardens said the gator weighed about 400 pounds and was taken to the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge and released. They told her they’d responded to a number of calls for gator sightings, but none had been as big as the one in her dad’s backyard.