The non-native species pose a "significant" threat to the public, according to the Middlesex Borough Police Department
A New Jersey lake became the unlikely home of an alligator, sparking a police investigation and search for the elusive reptile.
On Aug. 23, police officers from the Middlesex Borough Police Department were dispatched to Victor Crowell Park in Middlesex, New Jersey, to capture the alligator after it was spotted in the park. The officers planned to remove "the potentially dangerous species of non-indigenous reptile, which is capable of inflicting serious or fatal injuries," according to a Facebook post from the police department, but were unable to apprehend the animal.
On Saturday, the alligator, "estimated to be three to four feet in length," was spotted in Lake Creighton — also known as Duck Pond — next to the park and in Ambrose Brook, which connects the lake to Raritan River. Per the social media post from the Middlesex Borough Police Department, authorities could not catch the reptile at either location.
During the weekend search for the alligator, a police officer "employed a safe discharge from a firearm in an attempt to neutralize it while in close proximity," the department shared online.
"The alligator immediately submerged into the brook, and it was unconfirmed if the attempt was successful," the agency added.
On Monday, Victor Crowell Park closed to protect the public from the alligator.
"In the interest of the public safety of our community, Victor Crowell Park will be closed to the public for a minimum of 72 hours or until such time that the alligator is deemed to no longer be a threat," Chief Matthew P. Geist of the Middlesex Borough Police Department said a statement.
"Our police officers, along with officers from the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife Conservation Police, have been monitoring the lake and the Ambrose Brook in attempts to locate the reptile and will take all means necessary to resolve this situation. These are the law enforcement partnerships we count on to help protect our community from this potential threat to the public health," Geist added.
Lake Creighton was searched by wildlife authorities and police using drones, CBS News reported.
The Middlesex Borough Police Department confirmed that drones were deployed to help locate the alligator in an update posted on Facebook on Aug. 30.
According to the post, "In the overnight hours of Wednesday, August 30, the reptile was observed by officers from the police department near the small island in the waters of Lake Creighton."
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The alligator remains at large after this sighting. The police department has set up several traps around the lake and "will continue to monitor the waterways" to capture the animal.
In its Facebook post, the Middlesex Borough Police Department encouraged anyone who spots the alligator to leave the reptile alone and call the police department at 732-356-1900.
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