Crime

Teenager found a gator in the wild. He shouldn't have taken it to Wawa, cops say

Two men dropped off a three-foot alligator inside the Wawa convenience store, 14510 State Road 70 East in Lakewood Ranch early Friday morning.
Two men dropped off a three-foot alligator inside the Wawa convenience store, 14510 State Road 70 East in Lakewood Ranch early Friday morning. jdeleon@bradenton.com

A two-foot alligator didn't stroll into the Lakewood Ranch Wawa on its own earlier this month.

Investigators have charged a 17-year-old boy they say grabbed the alligator from the wild and dropped it it off inside the convenience store.

At about 2:30 a.m. June 15, someone dropped off the gator at the Wawa at 14510 State Road 70 in Lakewood Ranch, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. Deputies responded and called the Fish and Wildlife Commission, who sent a trapper out to the Wawa.

The two-foot alligator was relocated to a suitable environment, according to FWC, and was not injured.

On Friday, the teenager was issued a citation charging him with illegally possessing or harvesting an American alligator, a second-degree misdemeanor. The teen was not arrested but given notice to appear in court on July 21.

Despite initial reports indicating there were two suspects, no one else is expected to face charges, according to FWC spokesman Brian Norris.

Alligators are important to Florida’s ecosystem and are found throughout the state. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission wants you to know that by following a few simple rules, we can co-exist with these amazing reptiles.

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