My wife is from southern Louisiana.  Down there, alligators are everywhere in the swamp. They're a part of day-to-day life and even a part of how many Cajuns make their living. Maybe you've seen the show 'Swamp People'? I've got news for you, it's not your typical, so-called 'reality' tv. It's for real.  For many, many years, we've heard that gators have made their way up the Red River into east Texas and even as far as Lake Texoma. It's not just a rumor. They really are there.

For years, I've heard people dispute the claims, even after the Army Corps verified that, yes, gators are alive and well in Lake Texoma. And I admit, I had my doubts, but there's no question. A picture is worth a thousand words, after all. I've never personally seen a gator on Texoma, but I know a few fishermen who have claimed to have seen them, especially in the last four or five years.

The American alligator is a tough, resilient creature that has called the swamps of the southeast home long before the Acadians ever set foot in the Atchafalaya. But they seem to be fairly new to Texoma. I had heard stories from as far back as the late 1980's. I've been told that they were spotted there in the mid-1970's even.  I've fished Texoma at least 20 times in my lifetime and never saw one. Even my wife, on a trip with our kids to Lake Texoma years ago, laughed it off. 'There's no way they're this far north and west', she said. We didn't see any on that trip, either. But their numbers have almost certainly increased in recent years, given more frequent sightings.

Alligator in Lake Texoma
Alligator in Lake Texoma (Army Corp of Engineers)

These pictures are from the Army Corps of Engineers. How many gators could there be at Lake?  I don't think anyone really knows, but if you have one, you have two, or maybe 10.  Or it could be 100.  It's hard to know, for now. Texas does have both core and non-core alligator seasons, but you can only hunt them on private property, so killing one at Lake Texoma would be illegal, as it is a designated state park.

Alligators can travel at up to 20 mph in the water and be up to 15 ft long. Their powerful jaws can take your leg off and even though they aren't generally confrontational, if you get into their space, they will defend it. Bottom line is this: keep your eyes open, watch your step and if you have any questions about what areas are safe or unsafe, and especially if you sight a gator at Lake Texoma, you should contact the game warden right away.

More From Newstalk 1290