Albion College leaders hesitate to reopen riverside trails and water access after weekend hikers said they saw an alligator at a campus nature preserve.
"The college is working directly with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and other local agencies to resolve the situation as safely and quickly as possible," a Monday update says.
"While there has been no confirmation of an alligator after multiple searches, Albion College is taking every precaution to ensure the safety of the campus and the surrounding community. As a result, the Whitehouse Nature Center will remain closed until further notice."
Original article, Sunday night:
This time, Covid isn't why Albion College starts a social media warning with the familiar phrase "out of an abundance of caution." The risk reportedly was from a reptile, not a virus.
Administrators at the small campus in Calhoun County shut riverside trails and a visitor center Sunday, a day after "two independent sightings of what is thought to be a four- to five-foot alligator ... in the Kalamazoo River where it runs through the Nature Center," it posts on Facebook. "For your safety, we ask that you stay away from the areas near the Nature Center and remain vigilant around bodies of water."
A separate warning from the 140-acre Whitehouse Nature Center says: "We urge everyone to stay away from the area while the college works with authorities to locate and remove the alligator."
The unusual alerts about a non-native critter spark over 200 comments, ranging from plausible speculation (a pet reptile got big and was dumped) to mirth and ridicule ("global warming is happening faster"). More samples:
♦ "Albion is missing a golden opportunity to change their mascot to a gator." -- Bryan Frink of Beverly Hills, Mich., Class of '94
♦ "Is this the converse of how some people from the Midwest head to Florida during the winter?" -- David Whitesell, Plymouth
♦ "The investi-gators are working as hard as possible." -- Jacob Lyday, Saginaw
♦ "I'm so glad to be alive for this." -- Sheri Dirkse, Hazel Park
♦ "The Department of UnNatural Resources was notified immediately. DUNR from time to time gets reports such as these involving gators, sharks, saucers and Bigfoot." -- Washington Gardner H.S. alumni group, Albion
♦ "There's an academic paper in this, I'm sure! 'A study of the socio-cultural response to vagrant species sightings in a Midwestern small town.'" -- Sherry Burlingame, alumna
♦ "An alligator has shut down my college’s nature center and I have to pinch myself that I'm not hallucinating." -- Jason A. Watts, Class of '99
♦ "Crikey! This is some action packed stuff!" -- Katie Cavanaugh, Kalamazoo
♦ "2022 just keeps getting better every day. You just can’t make this stuff up." -- Harry Urban
♦ "Man, I know global warming is happening faster than most scientists thought — but that’s really startling!" -- David Quick
♦ "Reward if I catch it?" -- James Manthei, Albion
♦ "Yeah, new boots and a belt maybe a handbag if it's big enough." -- Veronica Manthei of Rockwood, an alumna