Local man who catches gators gets TV show

May 10, 2010 9:50:09 AM PDT
Alligator sightings have become common as urban development moves into once rural areas. Just last week, a 7-foot long gator showed up at a League City apartment complex. A game warden was called and the alligator was shot and killed. That's exactly what one local alligator expert is trying to prevent. From drainage pipes to backyard ponds, there is no place Gary Saurage and his team of wranglers won't go to rescue a gator.

One day, we met up with him in Anahuac, where he stood in waist deep in water.

The homeowner had called Saurage for help saying the gator is getting too close for comfort.

"She showed up about 18 inches long, and now she's 7 feet long but presenting a little bit of a hazard so I thought we might like to remove her," landowner Rick Mendenhall said.

Saurage's love for the alligator began as a boy growing up near the bayous of Louisiana.

"You put your hands on alligators almost every day," Saurage said.

"I'm not going to fool with electricity; it bites really hard. I will fool with an alligator. The difference is electricians know electricity, I don't. I know alligators," he said.

Now, his daring rescue missions have caught the eye of national TV.

"I never would have thought of in a million years we would actually make a national TV show out of catching these alligators," he said.

His show is called Gator 911. And on this day, television crews follow as he tries to wrangle a 7-foot gator.

"I know she's in there; I can feel her foot print," he said.

Despite trying for hours, the 7-footer gets away.

"I know I saw that alligator right there," he said.

But Saurage doesn't leave empty handed.

"To my surprise, it was about 3-foot alligator that came out, and he was a little more brave," Saurage said.

The little gator will be brought to Saurage's 15-acre refuge in Beaumont. It's called Gator Country.

"We want to catch them, catch them alive, try not to cause them any harm and bring them here and let them live out the rest of their life," Saurage said.

There are more than 300 rescued alligators on site, and yes, visitors are welcome.

Saurage and his team train, teach, and let folks get up close and personal with the gators. He's hoping they'll develop more love and less fear.

"The alligator really gets a bad rap," he said. "For many years, if an alligator ends up out of bounds, normally its fate is fatal."

But Saurage is trying to change all that. He's hoping the next time a displaced gator is spotted authorities won't kill it, but will call him instead.

Saurage and his crew did go back to Anahuac and finally captured that 7-foot gator. He brought her back to Gator Country.

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