The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission received a call about a bound alligator spotted swimming in Sweetwater Canal and rushed to rescue it.
Residents share the Sunshine State with roughly 1.25 million alligators. While some alligators are seen as a “nuisance”, they are an integral part of a healthy and balanced ecosystem.
Officials arrived in Central Florida to find an alligator with its eyes and mouth duct taped shut. It was attempting to swim through the canal but its hind legs were also tightly bound with tape, nearly cutting off the circulation.
The alligator was rescued and the search is on for the person or people responsible for this heinous act.
Under Florida law, it is a third-degree felony to injure or kill an alligator and is punishable by up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. They claim this case may be linked to other incidents of bound alligators in the area.
“Wild animals are protected under the law. This is a very serious crime, all the more urgent because it may be part of a larger pattern of cruelty and animal cruelty can be an indicator of violence and other crimes against people as well,” said Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We thank the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for their swift action in this case and for taking this incident—and the other possibly related incidents—seriously.”
The state has systems in place to handle nuisance alligators and offers tips on how to peacefully co-exist. “Serious injuries caused by alligators are rare here and conflicts can be avoided by keeping a safe distance if you see an alligator, never feeding one, and swimming only in designated areas during the day. If you’re concerned about an alligator, call our toll-free hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286),” posted Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation.
ALDF shared a post informing their fans of the incident and reward. People are sharing it across the state and with family and friends to help find the person responsible. While not everyone loves alligators, many respect the purpose they serve and agree they should not be harmed.
“They may be dangerous animals but it doesn’t give people the right to abuse them. We’re the one’s are taking their home not them taking our home. We need to respect animals of every kind,” wrote one person.
Anyone with information is asked to contact state officials at 1-888-404-3922.
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