LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — People who fish and kayak along the Interstate 210 boat launch are concerned about alligators approaching them.

Wildlife officials tell the American Press (http:// that could be happening because people are feeding them.

Wendell Smith, a biologist with the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said alligators usually ignore kayakers and other boaters.

"A normal (alligator) will just swim around," Smith said. "But once they start associating people with food, if they don't get fed they'll get mad."

McNeese State University professor Billy Turner said he and his wife, Jan, have seen alligators while kayaking near the boat launch over the past several years. But, he said, they are approaching more frequently.

"A couple look fairly menacing," Turner said. "I think people are feeding them, (so) they lose their fear of humans. It's a matter of time before someone gets bitten or worse."

Smith said the department calls in licensed trappers to catch nuisance alligators. Trappers removed two alligators last month, but he said more will return.

"As soon as you remove one, there's another that takes its place," Smith said. "There are alligators all over that waterway."

Turner said he believes more alligators are attracted to the boat launch because of Ameristar Casino's construction of its casino-resort. "That's where those (alligators) lived," he said. "Now they have nowhere else to go."

Randall Hebert, a trapper, said he set up trapping lines earlier this week but did not catch anything. He said alligators could be getting food when crabbers and anglers throw away bait.

"Their sense of smell is incredible," Hebert said.

Smith said the department is working with the Calcasieu Office of Emergency Preparedness to post signs near the boat launch urging people to not feed alligators.


Information from: American Press,