WHITLEY COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — A 5-foot alligator has been captured and removed from a Whitley County lake.
The alligator was spotted in New Lake, off C.R. 350 West and 700 North about 7 miles northwest of Columbia City by an Illinois man, who spends a few weeks every summer at the lake.
“I was fishing not too far down the way and I saw some pop can eyes, you know, something like you see a movie,” said Sawyer Burgett. “I was just in total shock. You don’t see that in Indiana.”
Burgett reported his discovery to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Capt. Jet Quillen with the DNR said a conservation officer was sent out to investigate on Sunday. The officer did not see anything at that time. Another officer was sent out Monday night and did not see anything, either.
Overnight, though, Burgett caught the alligator with a trebel hook and a net. It measured 63 inches – more than 5 feet long.
He then put the reptile down.
“Children swim, pets, we have a little dog, babies, you don’t know what’s going to happen. I mean, it’s an alligator,” said Burgett. “Around the lake, everyone is very relieved. Social media standpoint, not so much. We didn’t harm the animal on purpose. We caught the animal and had to take matters into our own hands… No one is scared to swim anymore or scared to go fishing.”
Whitley County Commissioner Theresa Green said fellow Commissioner Chad Banks spoke with the person who caught the large reptile. Green said officials believe someone had the alligator as a pet and released it into the lake because it became too large and the owner could no longer care for it.
Quillen said that while the DNR does not regulate alligators, you must permit them with the State of Indiana once they are 5 feet or larger.
Commissioner Green said that she does not support residents keeping exotic animals.