September 10, 2009

Third gator caught in New Jersey

Authorities in New Jersey say they captured a 6-foot alligator in a busy park, the third -- and biggest-- one found on the loose in the state in three weeks.

Police Capt. Stephen Mould said Allentown officers were sent to the park, which contains sports facilities and a playground, Wednesday afternoon after a witness reported seeing the alligator sunning itself on the bank of Jordan Creek, The Philadelphia Enquirer reported Thursday.

We formulated a little bit of plan, Mould said of the reptile's capture.

Inspired by gator-handling techniques they saw on a popular TV program, Mould said police and animal control officers snagged the gator's neck in a rope loop at the end of a pole and secured its jaws with tape.

The gator was handed over to reptile expert Gary Lee of Emmaus, N.J. He said the gator, which weighs an estimated 130 pounds, would stay in his bathtub until a permanent home could be found.

He looks healthy. He's nice and fat and sassy, Lee said.

Police said the alligator was likely an escaped or released pet.

Last week, state wildlife staff snared a 25-pound gator at a Trenton pond, and Aug. 22 animal control officers caught a 30-inch alligator spotted lurking around a Sparta home