Frank Nasse normally stops by a boat ramp on the Peconic River for a few minutes on his way to work each day, to have a cup of coffee and look out at the water and the birds. Friday, he did a double take. What he saw was an alligator.
The Manorville man called state environmental officials about 8 a.m., and two officers responded. They found four alligators, two and three feet long, moving sluggishly in the chilly water, near the boat ramp on Connecticut Avenue in Calverton.
Department of Environmental Conservation Lt. Dallas Bengel and Officer Mark Simmons used a long catch pole to snare the alligators, and taped their jaws shut before taking them to the DEC office in Stony Brook. Eventually, the state agency plans to turn them over to the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center aquarium in Riverhead.
Alligators are illegal to keep as pets in New York, and DEC Regional director Peter Scully said people who buy them eventually find they cannot care for the growing animal and dump them in the wild, where they are a risk to people and where they often cannot survive.
The DEC, working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, plans to hold a one-time “no questions asked” amnesty program for people who want to turn in their illegal or unpermitted reptiles and amphibians on April 27, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Sweetbriar Nature Center at 62 Eckernkamp Dr. in Smithtown.
Species that do not require a special permit or are not on a threatened or endangered list will not be accepted. Further information can be obtained by calling the SPCA at 631-382-7722, the DEC at 631-444-0250 or U.S. Fish and Wildlife at 516-825-3950.