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Martinsburg police find home for gator

April 29, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - In his 30-year career in law enforcement, Martinsburg Police Chief Ted Anderson found himself confronted with a new situation Wednesday night - someone handed him a box that contained an alligator.

Anderson was in his car on North Queen Street at 9:50 p.m. when he was approached by a man who said he found the alligator in Williamsport on the banks of the Potomac River.

"He wanted to report it to a law enforcement agency," Anderson said. "I guess I was the first one (he saw)."

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The alligator, which Anderson said was around 10 inches to 12 inches long, was taken to the police department.

A city magistrate brought in an aquarium, which officers filled with water and rocks. Officers tried to feed the alligator insects, worms and even small fish, but apparently the creature was not hungry.

Various governmental agencies were contacted, including the Division of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, but none could take the alligator, Anderson said.

"I was concerned that it would die in our presence if we didn't find a place for it," Anderson said.

Eventually, the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo in Thurmont, Md., agreed to take the alligator.

Anderson said he believes the alligator likely was someone's pet. He said he picked up the gator, which seemed docile and emitted a purring-like sound.

Although concerned about the alligator's welfare, Anderson said he also worries about why someone chose to drop off the alligator by a river, where it is possible it could have grown and hurt someone.

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