An alligator found on the Long Island Expressway Monday is now in custody of the SPCA, and the agency is offering a $1,000 reward to help solve the gator caper.
The juvenile American alligator was spotted at about 10 a.m. by a driver about a mile east of Exit 68 in Yaphank.
The driver called 911, and Suffolk County Sgt. John Rung responded.
"When I approached the alligator, I thought it was actually injured or maybe dead because it was laying on its stomach," said Rung. "When I tapped it with my police baton, it whipped around and showed its teeth."
Surprised by the alligator's aggressive behavior, Rung said he jumped back. Then he and his partner figured out a way to safely capture it.
"We placed a milk crate over it, and then we were able to shimmy it into a cat carrier, and then we notified the SPCA," said Rung.
SPCA Chief Roy Gross said he believed someone had been keeping the animal as an illegal pet for about three years and no longer wanted the dangerous reptile.
"This is not something that will be tolerated in Suffolk County and if you have something like this, you're not only endangering yourself or your family but you're endangering the public," he said.
SPCA is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who released the animal. Charges could include animal cruelty, abandonment, and endangering the public. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Suffolk County SPCA.
The alligator will be shipped out of state soon to a wildlife sanctuary.