August 7, 2007

Gator captured in Redmond!

Meet Wally, Redmond's newest resident (photo by Scott Hammers/copyright Redmond Spokesman)

Larry McClaflin pulled into his driveway of Hemholtz Way Friday evening and saw an unusual sight. There was his cat, lounging in the sun in the gravel. Four or five feet away, there was a juvenile alligator, doing pretty much the same thing.

Neither animal seemed overly alarmed.

“I kinda was thinking that the cat was thinking he’s probably too big to pick up, and the alligator’s thinking the cat’s too big to eat,” McClaflin said

McClaflin ran inside and told his 16-year-old son what he’d found. His son was doubtful at first, but was convinced when he followed his father outside. The two called the Deschutes County Sherriff’s Office, fashioned a snare with Larry’s fishing pole, and grabbed the video camera to document the whole scene.

An officer from the sheriff’s department was able to corral the gator and transport him to the Humane Society of Redmond.

At the Humane Society, the alligator was dubbed “Wally” and issued a large plastic tub filled with a few inches of water on the floor of animal control officer Josh Capehart’s office. Executive Director Jamie Kanski said she estimated Wally was about a year old, and suspects he was probably abandoned by his owner.

“This is a two-foot baby American alligator, but he’s still feisty,” Kanski said. “You wouldn’t want to stick your finger in there.”

Monday morning, Capehart said Wally seems to be in good health, although he admitted he’s not very familiar with reptiles. Capehart was planning to locate a heat lamp and a meal of goldfish for Wally that afternoon.

Kanski said Wally will likely be turned over to a reptile vet in McMinnville and eventually transported to Florida to be released into the wild.

There are no state laws forbidding Oregonians from keeping alligators, but many cities – including Redmond – prohibit keeping them as pets inside city limits. An adult American alligator can grow to more than 15 feet long and weigh more than 1,000 pounds.

Capehart said the Humane Society had a previous run-in with an alligator in 2005, when police arrested a man at a Madras hotel and found he was sharing his room with the reptile.

-- story by Scott Hammers

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