HANCOCK Co., Ind. - A three-foot crocodile picked up this week by conservation officers at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources will be sent to Florida before the end of September.
DNR officials were told Monday about the possibility of a loose crocodile along Brandywine Creek and were able to find it Tuesday. It's been at an undisclosed location in southern Indiana, under the DNR's watch, ever since.
“Having a crocodile in Indiana is pretty unusual," said Lt. Angela Goldman, a spokesperson for the DNR. "Occasionally, we do find some alligators that have been released. As far as I know this is the first crocodile we’ve had so it’s been interesting we’ve learned some lessons and working on getting it a home.”
By Thursday afternoon, the DNR learned the crocodile would be sent to Jacksonville, Fla. later this month.
While it's not illegal to have a crocodile of this size, it is against the law to have one over five feet. Putting one that was a pet into the wild can be dangerous for the animal and others.
“Spreading disease, invasion of exotic animals, all of those things are just some of the reasons why you can’t do it," said Goldman.
While the DNR can't say for sure, it's very confident the animal was a pet, if only for a little bit before caring for it became an issue.
“A lot of times we have some people who think it might be fun to have some sort of exotic pet but the problem is these wild animals are wild animals," Goldman said. "Therefore, they take a whole lot more effort than a simple domestic animal like a dog or a cat. People will purchase them, you can get them online, there are a number of places you can get them. Then they get them home and realize they are over their head. Now they don’t know what to do with it.”
Goldman added the best thing to do is avoid buying wild animals. If someone wants to get rid of one, the DNR should get involved.
“Please, please don’t release it into the wild," said Goldman. "That is going to create a bad situation both for you, for the animal and for the public in general. Get ahold of the Department of Nature Resources, we will help you to re-home that animal into a secure, appropriate family.”
Goldman said she isn't aware of ever finding someone who had released crocodilian into the wild that the DNR had to eventually go pick up. The DNR is still trying to find the person who set it loose in the creek. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-TIP-INDR. Tips can be left anonymously.