The alligator may have weighed over 800 pounds, but it was no match for Christy Kroboth, a petite dental hygienist who, at 5-foot 5-inches, subdued the reptile in the parking lot of a Home Depot near Houston.
As part of the Gator Squad, Ms. Kroboth is a licensed alligator trapper. When gators are causing a nuisance somewhere in the area, several local police departments know to contact the Squad.
But when she got this most recent call Saturday around 6 a.m., she was expecting a seven-foot animal. Instead, she was greeted by a 12-foot long reptile who would rather be elsewhere. It was blind in one eye and estimated to be about 50 years old.
"I try to be sweet to these guys," Krobroth, 30, told KTRK news. "He wasn't too sweet to me but I'll forgive him for that."
In a video captured of one of the bystanders, she sits atop the squirming beast, losing her balance at one point. But alas, the just-over-100-pound gator guru prevails. Within minutes, the swamp critter is tied up with pink tape and a printed scarf.
Too big to fit into her Honda CR-V, the gator had to be forklifted onto the back of Kroboth’s fellow gator trapper Chris Stephens’ truck. From the Home Depot parking lot, it will be transported to an alligator sanctuary called Janik Alligators in El Campo, Texas.
"He'll probably just live out the rest of his life and have girlfriends and make babies and be fed every day. He'll be a happy gator," she said.
Kroboth said people often underestimate her ability to take care of alligator situations when she’s called to the scene. But she’s licensed by Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) for a reason.
"A lot of times when I show up on a call it's cops and mostly guys. And they're like, ‘Texas Parks and Wildlife sent you?'” she said. “They kind of doubt me at first until I really get them taped and ready to go.”
In Texas, there are nearly 50 nuisance alligator control hunters. According to the TPWD, the agency receives hundreds of calls about alligator nuisances on a yearly basis. The American Alligator, the only gator species native to the US, has not been endangered since the late 1970s.
Formed by Mr. Stephens originally, the Gator Squad’s primary mission is to promote a safe coexistence of alligators and human beings.
“I believe many alligators can be saved if people are educated and made aware of the truth,” he writes on the Gator Squad Facebook page. “Alligators provide a needed function in the Eco-system and we need to coexist with them safely and humanely.”