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For Release: Friday, April 19, 2013

DEC Conservation Officers Capture Gators in Peconic River

Special Amnesty Day to Occur on April 27 for Illegal Reptiles and Amphibians

Environmental Conservation Lieutenant Dallas Bengel and Officer Mark Simmons captured four juvenile alligators from the Peconic River on the border of Brookhaven and Riverhead this morning after receiving a tip from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) tip line. This incident occurs only one week prior to Long Island's first illegal reptile and amphibian amnesty day.

"Alligators released into Long Island waters have become an all too common occurrence in recent years," Regional Director Peter A. Scully said. "Unfortunately, individuals who attain these animals often find themselves incapable of caring for them as they grow, and they ultimately release them into the waters of Long Island where they are unable to survive and may pose a risk to recreationalists. We hope people will take advantage of the upcoming illegal reptile and amphibian amnesty day and these types of occurrences will decrease in the future."

At approximately 8 a.m. this morning, Frank Naase was partaking in his typical routine of a morning coffee and a visit to DEC's Connecticut Ave. canoe launch overlooking the Peconic River when he noticed an unusual animal floating by the launching dock. Mr. Naase quickly contacted DEC Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) dispatch to inform officers of the alligator he had spotted.

Lt. Bengel and ECO Simmons responded to the call. After catching an approximately two-foot alligator with a catch pole, they observed three more alligators in the water. The officers quickly collected and secured each of the animals with tape around their jaws. The alligators, whose sizes range from two to three feet, were lethargic due to the cold water they had been exposed to. They were transferred to DEC's Regional Headquarters in Stony Brook and will ultimately be received by the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead.

Alligators are illegal to own as pets in the state of New York, and individuals wishing to use them for exhibition, research or educational purposes require a DEC permit.

DEC has partnered with the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to allow for a one-time only amnesty program, where individuals can anonymously bring their illegal or unpermitted reptiles and amphibians without fear of prosecution. Species that do not require permits, or are not threatened or endanger will not be accepted.

The program will take place at Sweetbriar Nature Center, 62 Eckernkamp Drive, Smithtown, NY on Saturday, April 27, 2013 from 12 - 4 p.m.

For more information about the amnesty program, contact:

Suffolk County SPCA: (631) 382-7722
DEC: (631) 444-0250
USFWS: (516) 825-3950

To report any environmental crime, please contact DEC's toll free 24-hour TIPP hotline at: 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332) or Dispatch number at (631) 444-0250. DEC keeps the identity of all TIPP callers confidential.

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