At least a couple of people near Wadsworth have reported seeing an alligator in the Truckee River and state game wardens are taking the claim seriously enough to set traps baited with chicken meat for the reptile.
So far, however, the gator, described as 3 to 4 feet long, has given authorities the slip.
Jim Curran, the state’s regional fisheries supervisor, said the reported alligator is too small to pose a threat and might not survive the near-freezing winter waters anyway.
“We figure this one must have been someone’s pet,” Curran said. “When it got too big, they dumped it in the river.”
The first reported sighting came Oct. 14 when Jack Maughan said he saw the snub-nosed animal in the river while taking his daily walk along the bank. And Maughan’s son, Bryan, says he spotted the reptile on Sunday.
The story of the Wadsworth gator sightings isn’t being ignored by the town, about 10 miles east of the Reno-Sparks area.
Tom Peterson, local fire chief and owner of the Wadsworth Inn, has had T-shirts made boasting that the town is the state’s gator capital. And this weekend Fire Department volunteers are hosting an Indian taco feed featuring “super-hot gator sauce.”
Meanwhile, the legend continues to grow. “Yeah, it’s 3 to 4 feet long, but at 11 o’clock, after a few beers, that gator gets to be a 16-footer,” Peterson says.