A man walking his dog in rural Idaho was shocked when he encountered an alligator hundreds of miles from the coast where the reptiles are usually found.
Fish and Game Warden Brian Marek received a call Thursday afternoon from a person walking their dog in New Plymouth, Idaho, according to a release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
“They saw something moving in the brush and found a 3.5-foot alligator,” the department said in a statement.
The resident apparently caught the cat, put it in a horse trailer and called the department, which picked it up the next morning and took it to a Fish and Game facility where it is now, according to the statement.
The agency said it is investigating the origin of the alligator and asked anyone with information to contact the Idaho Fish and Game Southwest Regional Office.
“This alligator likely got loose from someone, and we are interested in finding the owner,” county conservation officer Matt O’Connell said in a statement.
It is illegal in Idaho to possess alligators without a permit or to release captive crocodilians – members of the alligator family – into the wild, according to the statement.
Adult alligators can average about 8 to 11 feet in length. Large reptiles are found along the eastern and Gulf coasts, north to North Carolina and west to east Texas. Florida and Louisiana have the two largest alligator populations in the country, with more than a million living in each state, according to Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries.
The species is not found in the wild in Idaho, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game website.
New Plymouth is located northwest of Boise, Idaho, and has a population of less than 2,000.