A person walking their dog in rural Idaho was in for quite a surprise when they encountered an alligator, hundreds of miles from the coast where the reptiles are usually found.
Fish and Game Officer Brian Marek received a call Thursday evening from a person who was walking their dog in New Plymouth, Idaho, according to a statement from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
“They spotted something moving in the brush and discovered the 3.5-foot alligator,” said the department in the statement.
The resident apparently captured the gator, put it in a horse trailer, and called the department, which picked it up the next morning and moved it to a Fish and Game facility where it is currently being housed, according to the statement.
The agency said it is investigating the alligator’s origins and urged anyone with information to contact the Idaho Fish and Game Southwest Regional Office.
“In all likelihood, this alligator got loose from someone, and we are interested in finding the owner,” Regional Conservation Officer Matt O’Connell said in the statement.
It is illegal to own alligators without a permit in Idaho or to release captive crocodilians – the family to which alligators belong – into the wild, according to the statement.
Adult alligators can grow to be about 8 to 11 feet long on average. The large reptiles tend to be found in on the east and Gulf coasts, as far north as North Carolina and as far west as eastern Texas. Florida and Louisiana have the country’s two highest alligator populations, with over a million living in each state, according to Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries.
The species are not found in the wild in Idaho, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game website.
New Plymouth is about 50 miles northwest of Boise, Idaho and has a population of less than 2,000 people.