Victoria man who captured gator avoids fine

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07c3875e50839d998a0443537a7a7518James Cobble embraced his parents after he emerged from justice of the peace court Thursday.

Jurors milled about the small building, relieved of their duty after only an hour.

The 29-year-old Xerox representative was supposed to stand trial for illegally possessing an alligator, a Class C misdemeanor.

He accepted a deal instead, and if he doesn’t violate any Texas Parks and Wildlife regulations and completes 20 hours of community service at the Texas Zoo, his case will be dismissed in 90 days.

“I was sweating bullets,” Cobble said. “It was a small fine, but that fine would have stopped me from doing something I wanted to do my whole life and from helping people.”

That something is earning an alligator nuisance control permit.

While a complaint about a nuisance alligator must first be sent to game wardens, permittees are allowed to contract with landowners to remove and sell them.

Prospective permittees are required to attend training and pass an exam.

One cannot obtain such a permit if convicted of a Class C misdemeanor, Cobble said.

Cobble was fishing at the Riverside Park duck pond June 24 when he noticed another fisherman hook a 6-foot, 9-inch alligator.

Children were nearby, and the entangled alligator could die or hurt someone trying to free itself, so Cobble decided to intervene.

He hopped on its back and used electrical tape to keep its powerful jaws shut.

He removed the hook from its right side and stashed the creature in the back seat of his green Ford F-150 before releasing it at the Guadalupe River kayak entrance on Moody Street.

“It swam off like a torpedo and probably has a long-lasting fear of humans,” he said.

That’s not the first time the Seadrift native has encountered an alligator, either.

An alligator once bit his left hand while fishing.

“The only way I was able to get him off me was to get on top of him and pry his jaws open,” Cobble said.

Another bit Cobble’s foot when he was trudging through some marshland.

Cobble was not fined for the offense.

He surrendered to the Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens at the Victoria Parks and Recreation Department after the Victoria Advocate published a reader’s photos of his deed.

The game wardens had hired a licensed couple to capture the alligator in the duck pond June 24, but they weren’t able to locate it.

Cobble’s attorney, Mike Crane, said his client never denied possessing the creature and was thankful the state realized it was an emergency situation.

“This was a good way to end it,” Crane said.

Attorney Beatriz Gonzalez represented the state.

“This is not something anybody in the public should do. Leave it to the professionals. I wish I had,” Cobble said.

Source: Victoria Advocate

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