Officials catch young alligator in suburban New Jersey river

Alligators have never before been seen in the town, says mayor

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The Independent US

It created something of a stir, to say the very least.

Officials in the New Jersey town of Elmwood Park spent the day doing something they do not usually do – recovering a young alligator that was spotted in the Passaic River.

The animal – not native to the region - was initially reported by a fisherman, Luis Acosta,  who called police around 8.20am after he saw the alligator about 15 feet away while he was fishing for carp.

“I noticed something moving,” Mr Acosta told “I thought it was a snapping turtle.”

He said he then thought it was a floating log before he was able to see its whole body - including its legs and tail.  “I said ‘wow’.”

Officials from the state Division of Fish and Wildlife identified it as an American alligator between 4 and 7 feet long. It is believed the creature as somebody’s pet that grew too big and was then described in the water.

Mayor Richard Mola watched the action from the side of the river. He told The Independent he had served as mayor of the town for 44 years, but never before seen such a creature in his river.

He said the alligator had been handed over to officials from the county administration was likely to be placed in an animal shelter.

“Everybody was here,” he said. “We had four helicopters flying over. All the news media.”