NORTH PORT, Fla. —The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is hoping to find who they believe illegally shot an 11-foot alligator. It happened after a man hiking at the Walton Ranch Preserve found in Sarasota County found the dead gator.
North Port resident Sean Riley was walking across a field with a friend and came across the alligator deceased, with a bullet wound in the soft spot of its head.
Fox 4 spoke to Riley on the phone about this experience. While he didn’t want to speak on camera, he did express his disgust after he found the gator shot, on a Facebook post. Riley said he first saw the gator 3.5 years ago and has enjoyed watching him for a long time. Adding he was so upset by the killing; he took out his metal detector to look for a shell casing.
FWC says while alligator harvest runs from August 15 to November 1st every year, reports of alligators being legally do occur occasionally. They added the illegal killing of an alligator is a third-degree felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine up to $5,000.
FWC officers removed the gator’s body on Wednesday and are currently conducting a criminal investigating into its death.
FWC does encourage the public to report such violations by calling their anonymous Wildlife Alert Hotline. That number is 888-404-3922.