Long Island has turned into a virtual alligator alley.
A three-foot-long alligator was found 1:30 a.m. Saturday in the parking lot of an Applebees on Montauk Highway in Shirley. That brings the count to five alligators rounded up in Nassau and Suffolk counties in nine days.
“Can you imagine if this alligator lunged at a child, what kind of damage it would do,” said Roy Gross, chief of the Suffolk SPCA, which is investigating the latest case. The gator has been taken to an anonymous wildlife rehabilitator.
Suffolk County police caught the first gator in nearby Mastic Beach on Sept. 28. Riverhead animal control officials found the second one Oct. 1 at a Wading River golf course. Nassau County police captured two alligators found separately in two days in a Baldwin supermarket parking lot Oct. 2 and Oct. 3.
All of the gators were about 3-feet-long. Alligators grow about a foot a year, Gross said. He noted that gators cannot survive in cold weather.
It is unclear if all of the cases are connected. The person or persons reponsible face a $250 fine for illegally owning an alligator, plus animal abandonment and public endangerment charges that are punishable by heftier fines and possible jailtime.
The Suffolk SPCA is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for abandoning the Shirley alligator. Anyone with information is asked to call the SPCA at 631-382-7722.
The Nassau SPCA is also offering a reward in the Baldwin case. Anyone with information can call 516-THE-SPCA.