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Alligator spotted on Lake Wylie

Fisherman Carson Orellana and friend Chris Carnes spotted this alligator April 5 while fishing on Lake Wylie. Orellana said he saw it again April 9 in the same area.
Fisherman Carson Orellana and friend Chris Carnes spotted this alligator April 5 while fishing on Lake Wylie. Orellana said he saw it again April 9 in the same area. COURTESY OF CARSON ORELLANA

Two fishermen got a shock April 5 while fishing on Lake Wylie.

Anglers Carson Orellana and Chris Carnes trolled up on a 2-foot alligator sitting on a log near Copperhead Island Access Area.

“It’s not big at all, but it’s definitely living there,” said Carnes, 17, who lives on Lake Wylie. “I don’t think it’s posing a threat yet.”

Carnes, a junior at Clover High School, started the York County High School Anglers club. He said he fishes about 200 days on the lake.

“I’ve been fishing Lake Wylie for about 10 years,” he said. “I’ve heard a few people say they’ve seen them on the lake. I always thought it was a fib people told.

“I fish all over the country, and I’ve seen pretty much anything on the lake,” he said, “the only shocker was it was on this lake.”

Carnes said the gator’s spot also was good for fishing. On Sunday, their five heaviest bass weighed more than 20 pounds, “which is good for this lake.”

Seeing the gator, he said, “just summed up a great day.”

The two returned to the spot April 9 in preparation for a tournament this weekend.

“It was in the same exact spot,” Carnes said. “Same exact log, same exact position.”

He said while people who learn about the gator say “they’ll never swim in the lake again,” Carnes isn’t worried.

“Personally, I’m not one to worry about that kind of stuff,” he said. “I don’t think it’ll mess you.”

In August, kayakers spotted a 2-foot gator near Copperhead Island. James and Christine Thomas of Lake Wylie and 13-year-old twins Brandon and Chandler were paddling about 1 p.m. Aug. 3 when they saw an alligator lounging on a log on the water.

“I don’t want anything to happen to the alligator, but I certainly don’t want him on the lake,” said Christine Thomas, a Lake Wylie resident for 11 years.

Although the American alligator is native to North Carolina, it is not native this far inland.

Rupert Medford, N.C Wildlife Resource Commission District 6 biologist, said he didn’t expect the alligator to survive through winter.

“It’s likely that little alligator is probably going to die here,” he said.

In 2009, three 4-foot-long alligators were sighted near Elks Park Campground in Rock Hill, near Lake Wylie Dam. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said then the gators were likely illegally dumped because they aren’t native to the area.

According to The Herald and Lake Wylie Pilot archives, DNR officers nabbed an 8-foot alligator in August 2002 on Lake Wylie. DNR officials searched for the animal after residents reported multiple sightings.

In 2000, officers found a gator in the Crowders Creek area of Wylie and in 1999, Catawba Nuclear Station employees spotted a 5- to 7-foot alligator lurking in a nearby lagoon.

If the alligator is presenting a threat to humans, in North Carolina, call N.C. Wildlife at 919-707-0010; in South Carolina, call 800-922-5431.

Catherine Muccigrosso •  803-831-8166

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