ATLANTA (WXIA) -- For years, stories have been whispered about among local area residents of alligators along the Chattahoochee River. Photos have surfaced off and on over time, some showing a gator or some other such evidence near the river. Many have dismissed the stories over time as regional folklore.
Some of the best recent evidence came in 2013, when 11Alive's Jerry Carnes came across an 8-foot long alligator near Cochran Shoals Park, not far from Interstate 285 and Interstate North Parkway. At the time, National Park Service officials said the gator had apparently discovered a comfortable spot in the swampy area near Cochran Shoals Park where it can burrow in and hide out during the winter months.
UPDATE Thursday, March 10, 2016: Click on this story for new video of the gator sunning in swampland next to the Chattahoochee:
Cobb County nature photographer Victor Webb came across the alligator on Wednesday in the same general area, and said he estimated the gator at anywhere from 8-to-10 feet in length. He said it was sunning itself along the river bank. He was able to get several good photos of the alligator.
Historically, alligators are not known to withstand winters this far north, but other species have been known to be migrating further north from areas further to the south -- including varieties of armadillos, coyotes, nutria and feral hogs, along with multiple species of other plants, insects and animals.
Webb said he doesn't want to see anything happen to the gator.
"It's not bothering anybody," Webb said to 11Alive's Michael King Wednesday afternoon. "I'd rather see it just left alone."
Park Service officials concur with Webb on that note. When 11Alive News spoke with them in 2013, they said that the alligator shies away from contact with people -- and as long as that trend continues, they will leave it alone, and not worry about trapping and removing it. They have since posted signs in the area advising park patrons and visitors to keep animals on a leash, and to avoid the alligator if they do see it or happen upon it.
Basically, you leave it alone, and it will leave you alone.
Last year, an alligator strolled onto a golf course in Florida, here's the proof: