Fisherman Catches Alligator at New Lake near Warsaw, Indiana
A fisherman from Illinois got quite a shock this past Sunday while fishing in a northern Indiana lake when he spotted an alligator in the water.
WANE-TV in Fort Wayne first reported the story on Tuesday, saying the man, Sawyer Burgett, reported the sighting to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) after seeing what he called, "pop can eyes" sticking out of the water at New Lake, approximately 30 miles northwest of Fort Wayne.
The DNR sent a conservation officer to the lake on Sunday, but couldn't find any trace of the reptile. A second officer attempted to locate it on Monday and also came up empty-handed. That's when Burgett took matters into his own hands.
He told WANE-TV he returned to the lake during the overnight hours and not only managed to capture the gator with a treble hook and a net before putting it down (a.k.a. killing it). Officials say the gator measured 5'3" in length and was likely kept as a pet by someone who dumped it in the lake when it became too big to care for.
As you can imagine, the response on social media to Burgett's decision has not been kind, with several people on WANE-TV's Facebook page questioning the decision, and asking why it wasn't turned over to a zoo or some type of animal sanctuary. Other's placed the blame on whoever dumped it in the lake in the first place, saying it wasn't the animal's fault it was there. Burgett said he made the decision for the safety of people and pets who camp in the area.
If I may ride the fence here a bit, I can see both sides of the argument. I understand Burgett's safety concerns, and for argument's sake, let's say he didn't have the equipment or capability of containing the gator until the DNR could take it off his hands. With that said, considering he went looking for it in the middle of the night, I'm guessing that was never his intention anyway. He had one goal, and you could argue a noble one, eliminate the threat for the safety of others.
I also agree with those unhappy with his decision. Ideally, it would have been more humane for him to track the gator and alert the DNR so they could capture it and find a more suitable place for it to live. As many commenters said, it wasn't the gator's fault it was in the lake. It should have never been someone's pet in the first place.
For what it's worth, owning an alligator in Indiana is not illegal. However, state law requires you to get a permit with the state once it grows to five feet long.