Lake Michigan gator

(Photo: City of Waukegan, via Facebook)

Investigators Want To Know Who Released Alligator In Lake Michigan

October 09, 2018 - 4:02 pm

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (WWJ/AP) - Authorities don't know who dumped a four-foot-long reptile in Lake Michigan, and they're trying to find out. 

After initially believing the animal spotted Monday by startled kayaker, swimming near Waukegan, Illinois, was a caiman, officials have confirmed it is an American alligator.

Either way, it had no business paddling around the suburban Chicago shoreline; and officials said Tuesday that animal control, along with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, are trying to determine who abandoned the gator, which had its mouth taped shut. 

Matthew Palya, who works for Larsen Marine Service in the area, told WWJ's Sandra McNeil he helped an animal control officer cut some fishing line and a hook off the alligator, and then helped her load it into a van. "I did not think this was gonna happen when I woke up this morning, I'll tell you that," Palya said. "It's unreal; it was unbelievable."

No injuries were reported; and Waukegan officials thanked all involved "a safe and successful rescue." 

Motley said the gator likely would have died within a few weeks if it hadn't been moved from the lake. 

A day later, Rob Carmichael at the Wildlife Discovery Center told the Detroit Free Press the alligator is weak and listless. The animal is being kept under close watch in warm water and the glow of heat lamps to improve its metabolism.

Palya is just hoping it's going to be OK.

"It was, you know, in colder waters than it's supposed to be -- that's not the environment for it," he said. "And it's mouth was taped shut, it couldn't get a bite of food."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.