Alligator holds up traffic

July 30, 2008 5:56:54 AM PDT
Commuters heading into New Orleans are used to dealing with traffic snarls, flooded roadways, wrecks and fog.

Now they can add an alligator shutdown to the mix.

State police say an alligator somehow got into the elevated eastbound lanes of Interstate 10 Tuesday morning - miles from an exit - and was hit by a car. Rush-hour traffic slowed to a crawl on the Bonnet Carre Spillway across the western edge of Lake Pontchartrain.

The mystery of the tagged, 5-foot gator's ascent to the elevated highway was still unsolved. St. Charles Parish wildlife nuisance control officer Kenny Schmill said the state Wildlife and Fisheries Department is attempting to track its origins.

"I think someone put him up there for a joke," said Schmill, who had to euthanize the alligator because of its injuries.

If farm raised, the alligator's tag should reveal its gender, where it was raised and when it was released, Schmill said.

Schmill said the animal was at least seven miles from the interstate's nearest exit. Had it fallen from a transport truck, Schmill said its mouth would have been taped.

State police were summoned around 7:15 a.m. The alligator had been struck by a vehicle and authorities initially thought it was dead, state police spokesman Trooper Joseph Piglia said.

"They walked up to it and its mouth opened and it started coming at them," Piglia said. "They got back in their cars! It was still feisty."

The troopers used their vehicles to corral the reptile on the roadside. State police said the alligator was removed at 8:45 a.m. allowing eastbound traffic to flow again.