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      Nature Report: Alligators Survive Drought

      If you want to see an alligator at Alligator Pond on Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge east of Rio Hondo, then you are out of luck.

      And no one will have any trouble obeying the Do Not Feed the Alligator sign posted there. The persistent drought has dried up nearly all the ponds at the refuge, and the big lake is shrinking daily.

      While the Rio Grande Valley's popular alligator viewing refuge is currently short on gators and water, there is one remote Cameron County pond on private land where the toothy reptiles are thriving. There are 30 to 40 alligators on this ranch pond, and some of them are well over 10 feet long. This big one sunning on the bank probably exceeds 12 feet in length, and certainly possesses a fine set of sharp teeth.

      Everywhere you look, there are alligators lurking|some floating motionlessly in the murky water, and others patrolling the pond no doubt in search of a meal. An ibis lands cautiously on a branch overlooking the pond, and appears to be having second thoughts about dropping down to the water's edge|probably a wise decision. Meanwhile, a shorebird walks perilously close to the big gator sunning on the bank, before perhaps sensing danger and turning away. This alligator crammed pond has got to be the most dangerous place in South Texas to drop by for a drink.

      With this many hungry gators poised to snatch an unwary bird or mammal, it certainly poses a death defying challenge for wildlife that attempt to slack their thirst here at the gators watery domain. With you Nature Report I'm Richard Moore