Elmwood Park considering exotic animal amnesty

Wildlife officials in Bergen County believe an alligator found swimming in the Passaic River Wednesday may have been someone's pet that was released into the wild. The alligator discovery is now raising questions about how the owners obtained it in the first place and where it will go.



In New Jersey alligators are classified as a "potentially dangerous species," which means only highly trained wildlife experts are allowed to keep them. However, this does not stop the general public from illegally obtaining these types of animals.



When owners want to get rid of these illegal pets, they are often worried about getting into trouble and release them into the wild. Experts say this creates a whole new set of problems.



"They can severely disrupt our native ecosystems," says Taryn McCrystall, of the Bergen County Zoo. "Plus it puts people at risk and in danger. People aren't thinking they will find an alligator in the backyard."



Anyone caught with an illegal pet, like an alligator or bobcat, could face a fine of several hundred dollars for the first offense and up to several thousand dollars for subsequent offenses. Elmwood Park Councilman Frank Caramagna is considering an amnesty ordinance.



The ordinance would allow someone with an illegal pet to turn it over with little to no consequences.



"They shouldn't get in trouble," Caramagna says. "It's better this way to turn them in instead of letting them loose."



The Passaic River gator is now in the care of DEP, which will reach out to state zoos and parks to find it a permanent home.


sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."