Four-foot reptile captured, relocated

It was a routine case of a gator in the garage.

A Craven County couple discovered a 4-foot alligator in their garage.

“I just opened the garage door to get something from the garage and it was there,” said Sharon Laque, who lives on Coree Way near Catfish Lake Road west of Havelock. “We just looked at each other and both turned around at the same time.”

Husband Allan Laque said the couple had gone to the beach, left the garage door open and had just arrived home when his wife realized she had left something in the garage.

“She screamed and yelled and got me and then I saw it and I said ‘OK, I believe you,’ he said. “It’s only a 3- or 4-foot alligator, not a real big one. I don’t know where it came from.”

They’ve lived in Craven County for less than a year.

“I thought it wasn’t real at first because I didn’t believe that it would be here in the neighborhood,” Sharon Laque said. “He’s not little. He’s not quite as big as me, but he’s a good size.”

Allan Laque decided a good plan would be to close the garage door to keep the alligator inside.

“All I did was look at it and closed the garage door, so it wouldn’t get out because there’s a lot of little kids around here,” said Allan Laque. “I figured that’s the safest spot.”

They then called 9-1-1, Craven County deputies responded, and about 20 minutes later, N.C. Wildlife Resources officers Brandon Lyon and Justin Owenby arrived, capturing the gator.

“We had a catch pole that we used to assist him out of the garage and we loaded it into the back of an F-150 truck and transported him to a place that’s suitable to alligators,” Lyon said.

Allan Laque said there are a few ponds around the neighborhood and some marshy areas from which the alligator could have crawled.

“It’s a real quiet neighborhood,” he said. “It is strange.”

Lyon said alligator encounters with people are becoming more frequent.

“We’re seeing more and more alligators in residential areas but it is very uncommon for alligators to be in someone’s residence,” said Lyon. “We encourage people that if they encounter that to not panic but just remove themselves from the situation and call law enforcement or call wildlife officers. Don’t panic. Just avoid contact with them.”