WIMAUMA, Fla. - Early Tuesday morning, Hillsborough County deputies received a report about a very familiar – and very Florida -- trespasser: an alligator.
Around 2 a.m., a citizen contacted the sheriff’s office to report there was a little gator – just under four feet long – wandering around a Wawa gas station, located at 16620 U.S. 301 in Wimauma.
It’s a good thing they received a call. When they located the female gator, they found it with tape around its mouth. If they didn’t find it, it may not have survived on its own.
"It was taped up because it had been captured by someone. It either escaped or they got afraid. It happens sometimes during the season, which is not good for the gator," explained Robb, an official alligator trapper through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "It can't un-tape himself, so if he didn't get captured by a human and get the tape taken off, it would've perished."
It's possible it could have been taped up for a few weeks, he said, but it appeared to still be in good health.
Deputies were able to corner the small gator until a trapper could take over. Because of its size, Robb plans to release it into the Alafia River. Under FWC rules, trappers cannot release alligators into the ecosystem that are above four feet.
"Then it gets to be free to live its life as the official Florida reptile," he said.