Andrew Grande couldn’t believe his eyes when he spotted an 11-foot-7-inch alligator in the canal behind his League City home. But he was flat-out panic-stricken when the 500-pound gator began moving swiftly towards his four-year-old daughter.
The child was playing with her brother and babysitter at 8:30 a.m. on July 24 when Grande, a 40-year-old insurance agent, looked up from inside his house to see the massive gator’s head rise out of the water. He immediately sprinted out the door towards the canal.
“It was a beast,” Grande told the Houston Chronicle. “I had a gut feeling it wanted my daughter as a snack.”
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As the gator moved within three feet, Grande rushed to get his children and the babysitter behind a backyard gate for protection.
“Alligators are common in this area but this was different. They never come to us like that,” said Grande.
Grande began making phone calls to get help, while the gator stayed nearby in the canal, plunging its head in and out of the water.
“It kept going up and down. It would look straight at me,” said Grande. “It seemed like it was playing a game.”
Grande said alligator hunter Thomas Reynolds arrived at his home at 10 a.m.
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“As he was getting the noose ready for the alligator, it came towards him,” said Grande. “The gator took a chomp at the noose and was caught. Then the battle began.”
After 30 minutes of struggling to secure the alligator, Reynolds called Texas game wardens Jennifer Provaznik and Austin Shoemaker for assistance. Several neighborhood residents and workers were also called over to lend a hand, Grande said.
In all, it took seven people, two catch poles, rope and multiple pieces of plywood to lift the large animal out of the canal and load him onto a transport vehicle, according to a statement from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).
“It was three hours to get the gator out of the water because it was so big and powerful. It kept flipping and flopping and turning,” said Grande.
The alligator has since been relocated to Gator County in Beaumont.
“They were happy to have the alligator because they lost all of theirs during Hurricane Harvey,” said Grande. “I was happy to have it out of my backyard.”
Typically when alligators exhibit the type of aggressive behavior displayed in this situation, it is indicative of having been fed by the public, according to TPWD.
Once alligators learn that humans can be a source of food for them, they cannot be returned to the wild, the TPWD said.