Alligator eludes capture in Trenton

TRENTON, NJ - August 31, 2009

NJ Game and Wildlife officials don't know for sure how the gator got there. They think it may have been a pet and dumped in the pond when it got too big. Last week they tried to lure it out with chicken meat, but that didn't work. Now they are using deer meat in their traps.

Residents visiting the park today expressed concern upon seeing it.

"It's an alligator!" said Beverly Hicks of Trenton. "I said I didn't want to look at it, I don't like creatures."

For anyone who questioned whether the alligator existed, its appearance today dispelled any doubt. The sharp-toothed reptile was photographed swimming with only its eyes above the water.

"He looks to be about four to five feet long," said George Parker. "All I saw was him sitting on the branches."

"After a long, arduous search for it I did see it, and I caught it on video and stills, and it's real," said resident Bill Carney. "Our Loch Ness monster is real.

Action News watched as the gator climbed on some branches in the water to sun itself today, oblivious to the fact that his presence led to the cancellation Sunday of a kids' fishing contest. The gator's appearance has prompted biologists from the New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife to bait more traps and drop them in the pond in hopes of catching the elusive gator.

"They are set with venison," said NJ Fish and Wildlife official Linda DiPiano. "Hopefully the alligator will go in them and be trapped inside."

"As soon as they ever come close, he would go back under," said park visitor Eddie Gonzalez of Trenton, who witnessed several attempts to capture the reptile.

Others who frequent Stacy Park are on alert.

"We come down about three times a week and we haven't seen it yet," said Pearlie Moore of Trenton.

But Pearlie and Willie Moore are prepared if they do. Willie is carrying a ski pole for protection.

"We don't want him to get hungry at the time and have us for lunch," said Willie.

So far game officials have managed to catch a 20-pound snapping turtle in their traps, but no alligator. The gator hunt continues in Trenton.

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