Gator found tied to tree near apartment complex - FOX 13 News

Gator found tied to tree near apartment complex

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TEMPLE TERRACE (FOX 13) -

Captain Phil Walters has seen a lot, but nothing quite like the emergency call he got Wednesday afternoon.

He arrived at Temple Terrace's Riverhills Landing apartments to find a massive alligator connected to the banks of the complex.

"It was tethered with some kind type of parachute cord. I hadn't examined if someone had jumped on it or lassoed it or what. But it was tied up to a tree," Walters said Friday.

Florida Fish & Wildlife officers measured it at nearly 12 feet long, tipping the scales at 400 pounds.

For many residents, the incident hit a little too close to home. Only a four-foot seawall and the leash separated the alligator from their doorsteps.

"I'm stunned! For someone to do that, to take the time to catch it and to hang it. What's in their heads?" resident Alicia Hannah said Friday.

FWC officers want answers, too. They say the alligator was healthy and well-fed. Neighbors told investigators the suspects were feeding it neighborhood cats.

"Anytime a wild animal is fed, specifically an alligator, it loses its fear of humans and associates humans with food," FWC Officer Baryl Martin said Friday.

While it appears someone had taken on the alligator as their own, Walters says their recklessness lead to its death. Trappers have to euthanize nuisance alligators over four feet in Florida.

"There's no way you can have this thing as a pet. This is an apartment complex. It's not like a baby you can put in a purse. The thing was 11.5 feet long," Walters said.

Feeding an alligator is a second degree misdemeanor in Florida, and catching one without a proper permit is a felony.

FWC is looking for who is responsible. If you have any information, you're asked to call 1-888-404-FWCC.

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