Living in coastal Georgia can present unique opportunities. Discovering an alligator living in your subdivision might be one of those.
So, what should you do if you find a dangerous predator in your backyard? Most folks recommend calling Jack Douglas.
Douglas runs Trapper Jack’s Predator Control, a service to trap animals that are a nuisance like coyotes, alligators, fox, bobcats, raccoons and feral cats.
He said he makes quite a few trips to Richmond Hill each year to remove and relocate alligators.
“After spring, I usually come to Richmond Hill about once a week,” said Douglas. “I mostly get calls about alligators and those are usually from home owners associations.”
Douglas is a licensed professional trapper and started his business in Savannah in 1989 to assist the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
“After local developers started the building boom in the ‘80s, DNR had so many calls to trap alligators that it was just easier for them to call me than try to handle every case,” Douglas explained.
He ensnares about 200 gators in the Low Country and Coastal Empire each year.
“I relocate about half of those and the other half we harvest for meat,” he added.
The size of the alligator determines the price for his service.
“If the alligator is under five-feet long I have to charge, but I can do the service at no cost for larger alligators because we can sell the meat,” he said.
He admitted Sterling Woods subdivision in Richmond Hill may need his assistance soon.
“They’ve got a gator almost seven-feet long that might become a nuisance,” he explained.
But when Douglas isn’t busy making house calls, he likes to educate children about reptiles and other coastal critters. He recently made an appearance at the Richmond Hill Farmer’s Market.
Douglas brought along his assistant, Valerie Jones, for the presentation. She may look like a young intern tasked to set up Douglas’s table full of reptile skulls, furry animal skins, and alligator teeth, but she’s a trapper, too.
“I’ve been Jack’s trapping assistant for the past three years,” she explained.
“We’ll probably be here at the market really late tonight because Jack just loves watching the children get excited about animals,” Jones added.
Douglas sat in a chair near the table covered in his treasures. A small gator with a black band around his mouth napped in his lap. Douglas’s peaceful smile illustrated his enjoyment.
Richmond Hill resident, Lindie Gilsdorf, said she came out to the farmer’s market just to see Trapper Jack.
“I love these critters,” she said. She stroked the alligator in Douglas’ lap in an effort to coax her friend’s toddler over. The littler girl cried and covered her face with her hands.
Gilsdorf laughed. “She’s not having it,” she said.
More than 30 years of experience has taught Douglas that some children don’t want to pet his reptiles, so he also brought three rabbits and put them in a pen. Children giggled and stroked the furry creatures near his feet seemingly unaware of the alligator resting nearby.
Angus McLeod, manager of the farmer’s market, arranged Douglas’ appearance with the help of contributions from local businesses.
“I’ve worked with Trapper Jack for almost 30 years,” said McLeod. “He used to come out for nature day projects for my Boy Scout troops and he did presentations at the local schools,” he explained.
McLeod encourages pets and children at the weekly farmer’s market and he felt Douglas would be a perfect fit for entertainment.
“Children love to see his animals up close and they love to hear his stories,” McLeod added. “He’s been around long before television shows like ‘Swamp People’ were in vogue. He’s the real deal.”
McLeod said he’s not sure when Trapper Jack will come back to the market, but he plans to invite him again. Until then, folks in town will have to wait until the nights warm up, alligators start moving around and surprised homeowners call Douglas to the rescue.