The city of Huntsville wants to educate its residents about alligators in the area after one reportedly ate a man's dog in the Hays Farm area.

"Let's be clear: alligators have been in Huntsville for a long time," District 3 councilwoman Jennie Robinson said during a council meeting Thursday night. "They have been over around Zierdt Road for decades… Now that houses are being developed in the Hays Farm area, we are seeing alligators in the Hays Farm area."

Robinson said "we're all learning to live with urban wildlife" and that she received reports of an "infestation of timber rattlers" in a local neighborhood.

She said Mayor Tommy Battle has helped install more signs warning of the presence of alligators and to remind residents not to go in the water or feed the animals.

"The fact that somebody would even think about feeding an alligator is — I just can't picture that, but apparently, they have," Robinson said. "And as a result, we now have at least one alligator who is no longer afraid of humans and will come up into the yard whenever a human is present because they think they're going to get fed. So we need to educate the public about the alligators. Those signs will be a first start, and we may need to do more."

She and the mayor have been asking for Alabama Fish and Wildlife to take action, but federal and state laws protecting the alligators limit what can be done.

"While the city is limited in what it can do, we can learn more about the alligators, particularly how many there are and where they are, and then help the residents know so we can take appropriate action to protect residents from nuisance alligators in particular and also at the same time while honoring the mandate to protect wildlife," Robinson said.

She said the mayor and council will continue exploring options with state officials and do all they can locally.

Councilman Devyn Keith, who is currently facing shoplifting charges for allegedly stealing from multiple Walmarts in Huntsville, quipped that if alligators were found in his District 1, "there might be a story about étouffée and maybe some gator gumbo."

Huntsville resident John Killian spoke during the time for public comment, saying he has at least three alligators ranging from 10 feet to 4 feet long in his neighborhood that have been there for over a year. He said he and other residents had formed a committee to try to rid the neighborhood of the reptiles but were running into the same issues as the city, with no one able to help. After going through various government channels, he said he was told to "learn to live with them."

"I believe there should be something else that we can do," Killian said. "We did the research on the websites; every other state has mitigation of alligator populations."

WVNN Radio host Dale Jackson host also addressed the council about the aforementioned alligator attack on a dog in the Hays Farm area.

"I've talked more about alligators in the last five days than I have my entire life," Jackson said. "...The alligator there killed a dog. There's a lot of questions about whether it did or whether it didn't. I've seen the photos… It's there. It's taken a dog. There were two kids in the place where this was happening."

Jackson said the dog's owner was also told to learn to live with the alligator. Instead, Jackson recommended the council members speak to state legislators about a solution, such as making it legal to "hunt and kill these things."

"The end result is somebody is going to be bitten and eaten by one of these things," he said. "That's going to happen… Someone will die."

Robinson said that if an alligator threatened a child, pet or other person, "that individual would be within their rights to kill the gator." She encouraged residents to document any alligators and their locations and to share that information with the city.

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