Gator stops by for lunch
Hahnville woman finds cold-blooded surprise on doorstep
By Michael Luke -
Jun 15, 2006
|Photos by Sandy Matthews
|A 7 ft. alligator lounges on the front porch of Sandy Matthews’ home in Hahnville. Matthews, seeing a flurry of activity outside her home, went to go outside and nearly stepped on the predator. In end, the alligator has to be killed.
Sandy Matthews, a schoolteacher from Luling Elementary, was enjoying a fine summer afternoon off in Hahnville’s Avalon Subdivision when she received an unexpected visitor: a 7 ft. alligator.
Sitting at home working on her computer, Matthews noticed a St. Charles Sheriff's Office squad car out in front of her house. "He was sitting outside for quite awhile and I thought he was just doing some paper work," said Matthews, "but then he drove into my driveway," prompting her to go to the front door.
"I opened the door and almost stepped on this alligator," said Matthews, laughingly recalling her adventure. She also admitted that she wasn't laughing at the time.
"At first, I thought, who put that there? Then, it dawned on me what it was and I shut the door. I probably screamed, but I'm not sure," said Matthews.
Once she regained her composure, Matthews' curiosity was piqued: "I hung out the window and took some pictures," she said. Matthews said that the police invited her to come outside and see the reptile, but she opted to stay inside the house to do her wildlife photography.
Authorities called in Kenny Schmill to take care of the alligator. "It was tagged and it was a farm-raised gator," said Schmill, who is a resident of Luling, adding that the law requires that farms release a percentage of their stock to the wild.
Wrestling with large reptiles is nothing new to Schmill, who is the Alligator Nuisance Control Officer for St. Charles Parish. Schmill was appointed by the state twenty years ago and has been removing gators from peoples yards ever since.
For safety reasons, the alligator was killed. "They always come back to the same place where you pick them up at," said Schmill, commenting in the trend of alligators to return. "What happens if there is a kid around?"
"They move around in May and June, after they finish mating," said Schmill. "In different parts of the parish, people feed them, not on purpose." Schmill said residents do this by inadvertently leaving crawfish and crab peelings around. In Ormond in the past, Schmill said he has had problems with residents purposely feeding alligators.
While alligators are a common occurrence in Louisiana, they are not for Matthews, particularly since Mrs. Mathews is from the Scandinavian climate of Norway, where alligators are hard to find. "My husband said I'll probably be a hero when I go back to Norway for a visit. I do know that I'll have an interesting story to tell," said Matthews.