LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A 23-year-old Harlan County man is in hot water after authorities discovered an alligator in a creek near the community of Big Laurel.
Cameron Cornett of Big Laurel is charged with "illegally transporting and possessing an inherently dangerous exotic (non-native) animal, not reporting its escape, and not having a permit or documentation for other exotic animals in his possession."
Officials with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources began investigating after the 4-1/2 foot gator was spotted in Greasy Creek off state Road 2008 on June 29, according to a news release. Officials found the gator after a search, then left to get equipment to help capture it.
When they returned, however, they found "blood on a rock next to the creek and a blood trail leading to the highway."
An investigation led to the residence of a relative of Cornett, where Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officer Kyle Clark saw a pickup truck with more blood in the bed. The relative told Clark that Cornett had brought the alligator to Kentucky from Florida. He had been keeping the animal in an enclosure in his front yard, but it escaped two to three weeks earlier.
Videos of the gator on social media helped officials track it down. The relative said Cornett was concerned about the attention and wanted him to kill the gator so he and another person did so, according to the release.
The alligator's carcass was recovered by officials.
"Kentucky Fish and Wildlife occasionally receives reports of alligators and caimans in state waterways," Clark said. "There are reasons why we have laws in place prohibiting the importation of exotic and inherently dangerous animals."
Non-native wildlife can transmit disease, and some species can harm Kentucky’s native wildlife, people, pets or livestock.
"Alligators don’t make good pets," Clark said. "Even a smaller one can injure a person. When an alligator grows beyond a person's capacity to care for it, oftentimes it gets released into the wild, and then it becomes a potential danger to others. Besides, it's unlikely to survive through the winter."
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