Investigatoring the Recent Austin Alligator Attacks


Robert Berkowitz

In December 2021, there were reports of alligators roaming in Austin. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been making plans to remove the alligators. Photo courtesy of Robert Berkowitz

Residents of an urban state like Texas don’t typically fear encountering alligators on a day-to-day basis. But on Dec. 2, 2021, an alligator reportedly attacked and killed a dog in Del Valle. Three alligators were confirmed to have been living in the nearby retention pond in the Berdoll Farms neighborhood. 

Reports of alligators in the area haven’t exactly been scarce in the past few years. However, the pond is not designated as a protected animal sanctuary, and while there are signs surrounding the pond, they do not effectively warn citizens. Texas Game Wardens are investigating the area after Crystal Jaime, a resident of the neighborhood, made a call to the Austin Fire Department reporting a dog in distress. 

“At that time he still was yelping,” Jaime said. “But then you can hear an alligator growl.”

When firefighters and the Texas Game Wardens arrived at the scene, they found three alligators in a drainage area near the pond. They conducted a thorough investigation and discovered the area is actually a small alligator habitat. The pond and area surrounding it contain a heavily used walking path, basketball court, and playground for kids. 

“I just saw a group of kids the day before yesterday in that same area, catching minnows because there was a lot of water there from the rain,” Jaime said. “So they’re in that same area where the dog and alligators were.”

Although alligators are native to Texas and have been completely protected by the state since 1969, the general reaction to this news is astonishment. Generally, when individuals think of alligators, they think of the coastal swamps of Florida, whereas the scorching Texas climate may produce images of more eccentric animals like armadillos or bats. 

“That’s the habitat of the alligators, but at the same time, they can’t just go killing dogs,” Guillermo Santaolalla ‘23 said. “There has to be some control there because people have to be able to go to the park without fear.”

As of Dec. 31, 2021, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has announced that they plan to remove any alligators in the area.