Lake Bridgeport Alligators

Lake Bridgeport lies in Jack and Wise Counties 45 miles northwest of Ft. Worth, Texas, and covers 11,954 acres with 170 miles of shoreline. It is impounded from the West Fork of the Trinity River with an average depth of 30 feet and a maximum depth of 85 feet. It has clear water and rugged west Texas terrain.

Does Lake Bridgeport Have Alligators?

No sightings of alligators have been reported in years at Lake Bridgeport.

However, Lake Bridgeport does provide an alligator habitat. Alligators are native to the Trinity River basin. Alligators are most commonly found in areas with aquatic vegetation and basking sites. They prefer areas with little human activity, but will follow their food source.

From the confluence of its Elm and West Forks near Dallas, the Trinity River flows into Trinity Bay, which drains into the Gulf of Mexico east of Houston. Its northern tributaries end in Whitesboro, Texas, just south of Lake Texoma on the Red River. When it rains in Whitesboro, the southern half of the town drains into the Trinity River Basin and the northern half drains into the Red River Basin.

People have reported alligators on Lake Worth and Eagle Mountain Lake. Lake Bridgeport is 55 miles upstream and northwest from Eagle Mountain Lake. Lake Worth is just a few miles south of Eagle Mountain Lake. Alligators are the largest reptiles in North America and can reach an adult length of over ten feet.

Alligators are blackish with yellowish or cream-colored cross bands that become less apparent with age. You cannot usually see an alligator’s body when it is swimming. Determine an alligator’s size by estimating the distance between the eyes. For each inch between the eyes, add one foot to the length. Four inches between the eyes indicate a four-foot alligator.

Alligators eat rough fish like carp and gar, small mammals, birds, turtles, snakes, frogs, and invertebrates. Their diet changes as the alligator grows with preferred food items getting larger with age. Alligators are a protected game animal in Texas. The Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) issues permits to hunt, raise, or possess an alligator.

Can You Swim at Lake Bridgeport?

Yes, Lake Bridgeport is open to the public via a number of public and private use areas for boating, sailing, water skiing, scuba diving, and swimming. Average visibility under water is three to five feet. Runaway Bay on Lake Brigdeport’s southern shores has the most popular swim beach.

Around the Lake Bridgeport shoreline, visitors can find boat-launching ramps, boat rental services, campgrounds and cabins, marinas, RV parks, and picnic areas. Enjoy water sports, boating, fishing, and swimming all day long.

Other beaches can be accessed by boat. The beaches at Lake Bridgeport are not too wide because there is a lot of vegetation growing down to the shoreline, and the shoreline is rocky in many areas. Lake Bridgeport has four or five boat ramps. Its waters are clear, and the fishing is productive.

Alligator Tips and Info

Never Feed a Gator: It Is Illegal

It is illegal for an extremely logical reason based on centuries of knowledge from the folks who live in East Texas, southwestern Arkansas, Louisiana, and Florida. Why? Gators instinctively fear humans, will not normally attack people, and become nuisance gators.

If only one person feeds a single gator, it poses a future threat to humans and a opens up a new gateway to the property near the feeding location to children, pets, deer, cattle, other livestock, and wildlife because the gators become acclimated to human interaction, lose their fear, and hunt the new grounds.

It is illegal in Texas to feed an alligator. Since October 1, 2003, it has been a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 for anyone caught feeding an alligator in Texas. Human-fed gators are called nuisance gators. Even in non-core Texas counties, feeding a gator is dangerous to humans and the ecosystem.

Characteristics of Nuisance Gators

The presence of an alligator does not constitute a nuisance situation. If residences and commercial properties are located within or adjacent to habitats occupied by alligators, rare interactions do occur. Alligators are not naturally aggressive towards people. They avoid people and human-populated areas in their habitats, unless they have been fed intentionally or indirectly fed, such as by fish feeders or discarded fish remains thrown into the water.

Any alligator that has preyed upon or attempted to prey upon humans, pets, or livestock, or an alligator that shows aggression and lack of fear of humans by regularly approaching human activity is considered a "nuisance alligator". Leaving fish remains in water or on the waterfront is illegal in many state and federal wildlife management agencies, and is considered indirectly feeding a gator.

Alligators do not naturally patrol neighborhoods, busy beaches and waterfronts, and popular fishing areas in their habitats. The following are instances in which local authorities should be notified about a nuisance gator:

  • If you see an alligator in the roadway.
  • If an alligator is repeatedly following boats, canoes or other watercrafts, and/or maintains a close distance without submersing.
  • If you walk near the water and an alligator comes straight toward you, especially if it comes out of the water.

What to Do if You Have an Alligator Encounter

Serious and repeated attacks are most often made by alligators 8-feet in length or more and the result of chase and feeding behavior. Attacks by alligators under 5-feet in length are rare.

From the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD):

  • If the alligator is not approaching people or otherwise posing an obvious threat, wait a few days if possible - even up to a week - before contacting TPWD. In spring and summer, alligators are moving to breed and find new habitat. Most of the alligators moving around are smaller ones that have been pushed out of their normal habitat by larger alligators. Usually, these smaller alligators will move further on in a week or two.
  • If you hear an alligator hiss, it's a warning that you are too close.
  • Alligators have a natural fear of humans, and usually begin a quick retreat when approached by people. If you have a close encounter with an alligator a few yards away, back away slowly. It is extremely rare for wild alligators to chase people, but they can run up to 35 miles per hour for short distances on land. Never make the mistake of thinking that an alligator is slow and lethargic. Alligators are extremely quick and agile and will defend themselves when cornered. A female protecting her nest might charge a person who gets close to the nest, but she would quickly return to the nest after the intruder left.
  • It is not uncommon for alligators to bask along the banks of a pond or stream for extended periods of time. These alligators are usually warming their bodies; they are not actively hunting. Often times a basking alligator may be seen with its mouth open; this is a way to cool its body temperature down, since alligators do not pant or sweat. An approaching human should cause these alligators to retreat into the water. (In some cases, the alligator may be protecting a nest - see below.) However, an alligator may be considered a nuisance if it leaves the banks of the water body to spend time near homes, livestock pens, or other structures.
  • If you walk near the water and an alligator comes straight toward you, especially if it comes out of the water, it is definitely a nuisance alligator that needs to be reported to TPWD. In many cases, these are alligators that have been fed by people or have been allowed to get human food.
  • If you see an alligator while walking a pet, make sure that your pet is on a leash and under your control. Your pet will naturally be curious, and the alligator may see an easy food source. Alligators have a keen sense of smell. In areas near alligator sightings it is wise to keep pets inside a fenced area or in the house for a few days, during which the alligator will often move on.
  • If you see an alligator in the roadway, DO NOT attempt to move it! Notify local authorities so the alligator can be handled safely.
  • If you see a large alligator in your favorite swimming hole or pond, do not swim with it. Although alligator attacks in Texas are rare, it can happen. The "attack" reports in Texas are usually more accurately described as "encounters." As with all outdoor activities, realize that wildlife encounters are a possibility.
  • It is not uncommon for alligators to pursue top-water fishing lures, and this activity does not constitute a threat to humans. As with fish, alligators are attracted to these lures because they mimic natural food. Most alligators can be easily scared away from boats or fishing lures. However, alligators that repeatedly follow boats, canoes, or other watercraft, and/or maintain a close distance without submersing may be considered nuisance alligators.
  • If you see a nuisance alligator, consider why it is there. Did someone clean fish and throw the heads into a pond or river? If so, they created a potential alligator problem and could be breaking state regulations. Since October 1, 2003, it has been a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 for anyone caught feeding an alligator.

Gator Safety Precautions

DON’T feed alligators.

DON’T get too close to them.

DON’T swim or wade where they are.

DON’T let your pets near them.

DON’T agitate or tease them.

DON’T try to catch one.

DON’T approach an alligator’s nest.

DO observe from a safe distance.

DO discourage others from feeding them.

DO treat them with respect as an important element of nature.

DO get additional information about alligators from your local Texas Parks and Wildlife Department office, or contact the Alligator Program directly at 10 Parks and Wildlife Drive, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640, or [email protected]

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