Think twice before you go swimming in Pennsylvania.
It’s tough to not get excited when something big follows your lure, but when it’s an alligator, you start asking questions.
As unbelievable as it sounds, that’s exactly what happened to two anglers fishing on August 7, 2015 in Sweet Valley, Pennsylvania. The area’s Times Leader newspaper has the story.
“One of the anglers said whenever he cast toward the shoreline, this thing came right after his popper,” said Allan Schreffler, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s (PFBC) northeast region education specialist.
The two anglers were fishing on Harris Pond, which sits adjacent to the PFBC’s regional headquarters. They quickly let the commission staff know about their unusual sighting.
After the report, a waterways conservation officer killed the young alligator because of public safety concerns.
Schreffler doesn’t believe the reptile was in Harris Pond for long. “It’s a pretty popular place with anglers so I don’t think it was in there more than a day or two,” he said.
Alligators can legally be owned as pets in Pennsylvania, but are not native to the cold, northern state. Norm Gavlick, commissioner on the PFBC board, believes the alligator may have been kept as a pet, and then released into the pond when it grew too large. He was surprised that releasing a non-native species into Pennsylvania waterways, which is illegal, would happen in Harris Pond.
“It’s owned by the commission and adjacent to the headquarters building,” Gavlick said. “I’ve heard of this happening around the state but not locally. Fortunately nobody got hurt.”
Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time this kind of incident has happened. A three-foot alligator and a five-foot alligator were found in Lancaster County in July. In April, there were several unconfirmed sightings in the Monongahela River as well.