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Officers Wrestle Alligator Out of Hot Tub


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Officers Wrestle Alligator Out of Hot Tub

By Associated Press

September 16, 2004, 7:31 PM EDT

ROYALTON, Ill. -- A worried neighbor's call to Animal Control led to a bizarre scene at a southern Illinois home: Four officers wrestling an alligator out of a hot tub, a house filled with animal cages, and the arrest of a man wanted by the military for desertion.

It was more than Franklin County Animal Control Supervisor Jarrett Broy had been counting on when the call came in, but he's seen crazy things before.

When Broy and another officer reached the home Monday, they spotted the 5-foot-long, 80-pound American alligator in a wooden enclosure attached to a garage. Inside the enclosure was a hot tub sunk into the ground and filled with 4 feet of stagnant water, and in the water, littered with broken turtle shells, was the alligator.

They called the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Royalton Police for a little help.

To get the alligator, Scott Ballard of the IDNR pulled on chest waders, stepped into the tub and grabbed the animal. Broy and two others then dragged Ballard and the alligator out to the ground and struggled to tape the alligator's jaws shut.

"You can't imagine that thing's tail," Broy said. "He was wanting me to turn him loose, so he'd pop me in the back -- just laying it on me. Wham, wham, wham. My back is so sore."

Inside the house, meanwhile, Royalton Police Chief Denny Bush was running background checks on all the people.

One 18-year-old man came up listed as wanted by the military for desertion. The man was being held Thursday on a military pickup order at the Franklin County Jail, Sheriff Bill Wilson said.

The officers also found cages for large snakes, a room full of rats and mice, and several squirrels inside the house.

The owner of the home could be charged with possession of a threatened species for having the alligator in captivity, officials said. To keep the alligator, he would have needed a permit, which he did not have, Ballard said.

The home owner does not have a listed phone number and could not be reached Thursday for comment.

The alligator will be held at an IDNR holding facility until the case is resolved and eventually will go to a zoo or alligator farm, Broy said.

Copyright © 2004, The Associated Press

newsday.com

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