A Road Ranger Service driver recently stopped to help what they thought was a stranded vehicle — and found something quite different instead. The “stranded truck” was actually stopped because two poachers were trying to load a dead American alligator into it, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
The Road Ranger Service program provides free roadside assistance in the Sunshine State. This time, though, it helped nail two wildlife poachers. “When a Road Ranger stopped to assist someone they thought was a stranded motorist but then saw two people far off the roadway with what appeared to be a freshly killed alligator, the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) relayed the information to our officers,” explained the FWC. “The two subjects were seen loading the alligator into their truck and taking off on I-75. Utilizing traffic cameras, our officers were given real-time information as they responded, allowing them to work with FHP to apprehend two people with the poached alligator rolled in a tarp.”
The alligator was approximately 6 feet long. When officers apprehended the suspects, they found that the poachers had killed the gator using a “metal shaft through its skull” that was still connected to a speargun. The two individuals were charged with the illegal take of an alligator and immediately taken to jail.
Florida is home to approximately 1.3 million alligators. The state holds an alligator hunting season that typically runs from mid-August through the beginning of November. Outside of hunting season, only alligators that are deemed a significant threat to the public can be killed by professional trappers through the state’s Nuisance Alligator Program.