Alligators can be a common sight across America’s humid Southeast, but the last thing two young Minnesota anglers expected to catch was one of these large reptiles. The two boys, whose names have not been released, were fishing for bass in Washington County with live frogs as bait. Instead of drawing in fish, the frogs managed to entice a three-foot alligator to emerge from the lake. According to the Star Tribune, the boys reported the incident to the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and conservation officer Scott Arntzen came to Goose Lake to investigate.
Although not a large threat at three feet, male alligators can grow to lengths well beyond 16 feet, if they survive the Minnesota winter. Arntzen spotted the reptile swimming in the lake and dispatched it with a single shotgun shell to the head.
How exactly did alligators come to a Minnesota lake in the first place? As with most instances of exotic animals living in places they should not, these alligators used to be pets. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office traced the reptiles to a local man who said his two gators went missing seven weeks ago. The man kept the animals in an outdoor tank near his family farm in Scandia. Reportedly, he went looking for the second gator after Arntzen shot the first one. DNR officials say that alligators do not belong in Minnesota lakes and will be removed when found. Most of the time however, nature takes care of the job for them.
“It’s not uncommon for us to find alligators in ponds, but they usually starve,” said Capt. Greg Salo, regional enforcement manager for the DNR. “They would never survive the winter here. This isn’t the Florida Everglades.”
The former gator owner is now facing possible charges after breaking city ordinances for the proper keeping of exotic pets.