TWRA: Alligators are now in Tennessee

Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency has confirmed alligator sightings in Tennessee are true.

"There's probably single digits of alligators in the state and in West Tennessee, so it's highly unlikely that you'll encounter one," said Matt Cameron with TWRA.

According to the TWRA, alligators are naturally expanding into Tennessee from southern border states.

They're in West Tennessee and TWRA said they're not likely to migrate to East Tennessee.

"It's highly unlikely that they will," said Cameron. "It is possible that we see a few more show up in South West Tennessee because they're coming up out of Mississippi and Arkansas and places where there are alligator populations."

News Channel 5 in Nashville is reporting authorities with the TWRA said they have not stocked any alligators in the state, and they added the alligators are simply expanding. They said we must learn to coexist with them like many others in the southern states.

Alligators are opportunistic feeders that prey on fish, turtles, snakes, frogs, and waterfowl. Occasionally they will feed on larger animals such as possums, raccoons, and deer.

Alligators can survive Tennessee winters by going into a hibernation-like dormancy called brumation. They can withstand periods of ice by sticking their snout out of the water before it freezes which allows them to continue breathing.

Alligators are a protected specices, therefore caching or shooting one is against the law.

If you come across one while exploring the outdoors in West TN, leave it alone.

They can be dangerous, but Cameron said we should be more concerned with a different type of gator.

"The Florida gator football team is probably more of a threat to Tennesseans than anything," said Cameron.