Thursday, October 09, 2008

Alligator Feeding Brings Arrests

Airboat Captains Arrested

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Three airboat captains in the Everglades found out that feeding alligators doesn�t pay. It�s also illegal.

Responding to complaints from the public about Everglades airboat captains feeding alligators, law enforcement officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) conducted an undercover operation that resulted in the arrests of Randy T. Rothermel, D.O.B. 12-4-59, Ft. Lauderdale, and Armando Horta, D.O.B. 6-28-66, Hialeah, who were charged with feeding alligators. Also arrested was John D. Pieper, D.O.B. 9-14-50, Ft. Lauderdale, who faces charges of molesting an alligator.

On July 12, undercover FWC officers were among the many tourists who signed up for airboat rides at Everglades Holiday Park in western Broward County.  During the tour, the officers witnessed and photographed the airboat captains feeding large alligators.  At one point, an alligator, eager for food, bumped one of the airboats.  Tourists, including children, leaned over the edge of the airboats to snap photos of the approaching alligator.

"The actions of these individuals teach tourists and visitors it is OK to feed and touch American alligators," said FWC Lt. Rob Laubenberger.  "This puts the lives of anyone imitating these actions in jeopardy. In addition, the gators will perceive humans as a source of food."

To report any wildlife-law violation, such as feeding an alligator, call the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).

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