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Reptile roust

A 6 1/2-foot alligator alarms neighbors in Baybrook when it attacks a trapper's van. It's caught and killed.

By JANE BOKUN

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 11, 2000


COUNTRYWAY -- An alligator bit off more than it could chew when it decided to sink its teeth into a trapper's van.

The alligator showed up in the Baybrook subdivision last month. After a trapper arrived, the angry alligator charged his vehicle.

"The gator was pretty large, and it tore the running board right off our trapper's van," said John Weatherholt of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "It was definitely a gator in a bad mood."

Glen Cinko, 41, of Baybrook, first noticed the 61/2-foot reptile as he was leaving for his job at Sprint Corp. at 11 p.m. He saw it sticking out from under a neighbor's van.

"I hollered over to him that there was a tail under his car, but he just ignored me," Cinko said.

James Kannard, 32, who was standing in his open garage talking to some neighbors, thought it was a joke. He said when he realized the creature was indeed a live gator, he called Hillsborough County animal control and was referred to the Sheriff's Office.

"They said they'd be there in an hour," Kannard said. By then about eight neighbors had gathered.

After deputies arrived, they called local trapper Billy Harter, who poked the alligator to roust it from underneath the vehicle.

"It was really angry, and it ran out from under the car and turned its head in the direction of the poke," Kannard said.

That's when it attacked Harter's van.

Neighbors were alarmed, but once the gator was subdued, they took pictures and Kannard put them on his Web site.

The alligator, however, was killed.

"Any gator over four feet in length that is considered a nuisance (meaning a gator that no longer fears human contact) is euthanized," Weatherholt said. "The meat is consumed by restaurants and the animal hide is sold."

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