CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A three-foot-long alligator turned up near St. Albans Tuesday night, said Cpl. Gary Amick of the state Division of Natural Resources in Putnam County.
Some motorists along Teays Valley Road called 911 after ending up in a ditch trying to avoid hitting the gator, Amick said.
He said Putnam sheriff's deputies were able to capture and muzzle the reptile around midnight. Amick advised deputies to secure the animal in a cage overnight until he could pick it up Wednesday morning.
Amick said he picked the alligator up around 8 a.m. Wednesday and turned it over to the wildlife division.
The 2- or 3-year-old gator was shot with a .22-caliber pistol, Amick said. He said the division didn't have the chemicals to euthanize it.
Authorities offered the alligator to Marshall University, but the school was unable to house it, Amick said.
He said the gator was probably purchased as a baby while someone was on vacation in South Carolina or Florida.
"People bring them home thinking 'this is so cute' and put it in an aquarium, but then when it grows to be three-foot long in a five-gallon aquarium it becomes too much to handle," Amick said. "They don't want to kill it, because it's their pet, so they'll turn it loose thinking it'll find its way back to the wild."
Amick said the alligator might have survived the summer and early fall in West Virginia, but said winter weather would have eventually killed it.
Curtis Taylor, DNR wildlife chief, said he doesn't believe there is any state law prohibiting exotic animals.
"There are species referred to as injurious, such as the northern snakehead fish, and those species are regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It's against federal law to bring those species in. Some of the more poisonous snakes are on that list," Taylor said. "Alligators are not on the federal list. We defer to federal law on dangerous or injurious species, but to my knowledge, our state law has nothing against exotics."
Reach Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.