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On U.S. 301, the gator that couldn’t get away

MANATEE — He was so close.

The 400-pound alligator almost made it across the highway.

But for some reason the 9-foot 9-inch scaly beast stopped in its tracks smack in the middle of the right southbound lane of U.S. 301 south of Tallevast Road.

And it just wouldn’t move.

So at about 5:40 p.m., a passing motorist dialed 911.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies pulled in behind the gator, turned on their emergency lights and set up flares.

Still, it just wouldn’t move. So deputies Lee Harrington, Garrett Johnson, Tim Hartman and Steven Luke shut down the lane and directed motorists around the alligator.

Most of the curious passersby slammed on their brakes, looked out their car windows and laughed.

Eventually, Florida Wildlife Commission state alligator trappers Bob Cowles and Ken Cowles showed up, tied up the reptile and loaded him into their truck.

The gator didn’t go without a fight, though.

When Bob Cowles put a rope around his neck, the reptile violently began to flop around on the highway.

He hissed, did a few death rolls, then ended up in a grassy area along the highway where the trappers eventually were able to put tape around his mouth.

Ken Cowles said the alligator would be transported to Miami-Dade County.

So far this year, Cowles said he’s trapped about 75 alligators in Manatee and Sarasota counties. Last year, he corralled about 250.

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