FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - You may have seen the viral photos of alligators sunbathing at Fort Worth's Nature Center & Refuge.
The man behind the photos is wildlife photographer, Jimmy Martin.
"It immediately just took off when I posted it online, it just blew up," Martin said. "Some people are telling me I must have photo shopped them here."
He's one of many who've had recent encounters with North Texas gators.
CBS 11 has also seen photos taken in the Trinity River and at Eagle Mountain Lake.
"There just so happened to be a 10-foot gator sunbathing on the pier, and I was just thinking 'wow.'' Martin said.
After seeing the photos float around online, we decided to ask an expert how many are here?
"A few dozen in Lake Worth, and also in Lake Lewisville," said Sam Kieschnick, an Urban Wildlife Photographer for Texas Parks and Wildlife.
"I appreciate that there is a level of skepticism, with all pictures that we see online. I appreciate that. But in the case of these alligators…they're here," said Kieschnick.
He says they're a stable population that also travels throughout the trinity river and up to Eagle Mountain Lake.
"It's not hundreds and hundreds of them as they experienced down in Houston closer to the coast, but this is all part of a corridor so they can move throughout those waterways," said Kieschnick.
He says the reason North Texans may be noticing them more, is all the recent rain causing high water levels and closer shores.
"When there's high water, alligators can swim around easier, and get closer to the shore," he said.
But he also says it's possible people are just spending more time outside due to the pandemic, and that more than anything, locals should remember they are a normal part of our ecosystem, and are meant to be enjoyed.
"If you see an alligator. Be aware of it, treat it with respect don't harass it don't feed it, but I hope that you can celebrate it," Keischnick said.
(Originally Posted 6/10/2021)
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