New Jersey law enforcement and wildlife officials recently joined forces to capture a “non-indigenous” alligator on the loose after it somehow made its way to the Garden State.
The two-week-long pursuit of the reptile, which spanned multiple towns across the state, culminated in the animal’s capture on September 14 in Piscataway Township, just outside of New York City.
According to authorities, the chase began on August 23 when the elusive, 3-to-4-foot gator was spotted eating a duck at Ambrose Brook in Victor Crowell Park in Middlesex County, New Jersey.
The initial sighting led to the closure of the park, with restrictions prohibiting fishing and swimming. Middlesex Borough Police Department kept the frightened community informed about the ongoing investigation via their Facebook page.
The search for the alligator involved a collaborative effort between the Middlesex Borough Police Department, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Police and several other agencies.
The slippery alligator managed to evade capture for two weeks until it was sighted by a concerned citizen in Piscataway Township’s Possumtown neighborhood.
Finally, a Piscataway Township police officer, identified as Officer Ian Paglia, managed to capture the reptile at around 10 p.m. on Thursday night.
Body-camera footage from Officer Paglia showed a tense standoff as the alligator attempted to escape on a street, surrounded by the flashing lights of police vehicles.
Eventually, officers were able to hold the alligator in place, with Paglia using a blue leash for restraint.
Despite the ordeal, the captured alligator appeared to be in good health, showing no apparent injuries.
The reptile was subsequently handed over to New Jersey Fish and Wildlife and transported to the Cape May County Zoo, where it will stay temporarily before being sent to a sanctuary in Florida.
In New Jersey, alligators are classified as potentially dangerous species, and it is illegal to own them, according to wildlife officials.
Officials noted that these reptiles are sometimes brought into the state illegally, often by individuals who can no longer care for them. These owners tend to release them into local water bodies, posing a potential threat to both wildlife and local communities.
“The owners often release them in local water bodies when they find they can no longer care for the animal,” the Department of Fish and Wildlife said.
The alligator’s capture was met with relief from the community.
Authorities are continuing to review the incident to ensure public safety and prevent such incidents in the future.