Runaway New London alligator sent to rescue facility

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New London — A 3½-foot alligator found off Broad Street Saturday has been taken to a reptile rescue facility in Massachusetts, and attempts by officials to find the owner have been unsuccessful, state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection spokesman Dwayne Gardner said.

"We asked the neighbors, and no one knew anything," Gardner said Monday.

The alligator, estimated at no more than 2 years old, was trapped by New London police after a resident called 911 to report the animal in their front yard. When police arrived, it was running down the sidewalk and into a small grassy area off Broad Street, police said. Officers trapped and caged the animal and kept it until DEEP Environmental Conservation officers took possession of it. It was brought to Rainforest Reptiles in Beverly, Mass., where it will be rehabilitated and kept there or sent to another rescue facility in the South, Gardner said.

Gardner said an alligator of that size is dangerous to humans. Possession of alligators is illegal in Connecticut, punishable by three months in prison or a $500 fine. The law regarding possession of exotic wild animals was tightened two years ago.

In several other states, however, possession of alligators is legal, so it is likely that the owner purchased the animal in another state and brought it to Connecticut.

"There's a large trade in exotic animals," he said.

In the past year EnCon officers have handled four alligators.

"You can get used to seeing bear and deer and moose, but alligators are still a novelty," Gardner said. "But with climate change, you never know."

— Judy Benson

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