Rescued in Sheboygan, reptile takes up temporary residence at wildlife center
A 4-foot-long alligator found on Sheboygan’s south side Sunday morning has a new — albeit temporary — home in Ozaukee County.
The alligator is being housed at Pine View Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in the Town of Fredonia, where it is being cared for.
The reptile was emaciated, dehydrated and extremely stressed when it was found, Pine View Executive Director Jean Lord said Tuesday.
“Right now, it’s doing as well as can be expected,” Lord said. “(Initially) it would not eat. It has eaten a little bit, but it’s system needs to adapt to everything.
“Right now, it still decompressing.”
The alligator is about 4 years old, Lord said.
Lt. John Detienne of the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department said the reptile was found near a swampy area off Indiana Avenue and Taylor Drive, just outside the City of Sheboygan limits, about 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
The reptile was captured using a pole with an attached lasso that’s typically used for catching dogs, he said. A reacher was used to help hold the alligator’s nose down so deputies could tape its snout closed.
“No one trains you how to wrangle an alligator,” Detienne said.
The Department of Natural Resources then took possession of the alligator, Detienne said, and it was taken to Pine View.
The reptile was in all likelihood someone’s pet, Lord said.
“It either escaped or they let the animal go,” she said, when it became too much of a bother to continue handling.
The discovery of the alligator is yet another illustration of a problem seen nationwide, Lord said.
“This epitomizes and clearly illustrates the extent to which we, at least in the U.S., will prostitute wildlife,” she said. “This is a frustrating situation, and the animals are the innocent victims.
“We believe exotics make good pets. We presume what’s out there we can socialize. But there is no such thing as a pet wild animal.”
For years, she said, shelters have been dealing with abandoned exotic animals that were once pets. As the animals get older, they aren’t as cute as they once were and it costs more to care for them, people find it easy to just abandon them.
“Where are they going to go?” Lord asked.
This isn’t the first time Pine View has cared for an alligator, she said. About three years ago, Hartford police recovered a much smaller alligator in a river near downtown. It’s mouth had been duct-taped shut.
“It’s inhumane,” she said. “When they find these individuals, there need to be consequences.”
Lord said Pine View and the DNR are looking for a new home for the alligator. That’s not as easy as it sounds, she said, noting the reptile won’t be accepted by most zoos or refuges.
“We cannot just send it back to Florida,” she said, because a reptile here may have picked up bacteria, parasites or diseases that would infect the existing population.
If a home can’t be found for the alligator, it may have to be euthanized, Lord said.
“That’s the sad reality,” she said.
Lord said she believes a decision on the alligator’s future will likely be made in the next seven days.
Image information: AN ALLIGATOR found on Sheboygan’s south side Sunday morning relaxed Tuesday at its temporary home in an enclosure at Pine View Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in the Town of Fredonia under the watchful eyes of center Director Jean Lord and volunteer Lauren Holtz. Photo by Sam Arendt