WILDWOOD, Mo. – Chris Suljak was mowing his backyard and cutting down tree limbs in Wildwood when he saw something you don’t find in Missouri very often.
“Usually when I come down here, I hear about 15 to 20 bullfrogs jump in the water; first off it was dead silent,” Suljak said.
“I hear something on the shore and I started to hear a noise, I went around and all I heard was a splash, a tail go in the water and I saw a pretty good size tail.”
Suljak said his stepdaughter heard him scream an expletive and asked if he was okay.
“I said, ‘no I just saw an alligator and she started laughing,” he said. “So needless to say everyone started running down here.”
Suljak said his son-in-law and stepdaughter had just arrived from out-of-state, and his stepson jumped out of the car to help get the alligator out of the creek behind his house.
“I rigged up a pole with my dog leash on it and we just made a noose,” he said.
“It took us about three hours because he kept outsmarting us and going to the deep end,” Suljak chuckled. “I said we got to get him out, and we did, it was fun actually.”
He said the alligator was 54 inches long and weighed about 50 pounds. Suljak’s stepson Marcus recorded and commentated on the capture.
“We’re getting live footage folks,” Marcus said. The alligator hissed as they taped his mouth and got him out of the water.
“I know buddy, you lost the battle today,” Marcus added.
Suljak said Bi-State Wildlife Hotline sent a rescuer to his home who took the gator off in a cage.
He said he later found out the alligator belongs to a neighbor a few miles away and it had been missing for two weeks.
“He told me it happened to climb the face. He said it had never done that,” Suljak said. “I think the thing’s name is fluffy.”
He believes the alligator was returned to the owner.
According to Missouri State statute, having a pet alligator is actually legal and would only have to be registered with the health department if it is more than eight feet long.
St. Louis County Police Department did not respond to a call.
Per Missouri State Statute 578.023 RSMo: “No person may keep any lion, tiger, leopard, ocelot, jaguar, cheetah, margay, mountain lion, Canada lynx, bobcat, jaguarondi, hyena, wolf, bear, nonhuman primate, coyote, any deadly, dangerous, or poisonous reptile, or any deadly or dangerous reptile over eight feet long, in any place other than a properly maintained zoological park, circus, scientific, or educational institution, research laboratory, veterinary hospital, or animal refuge unless such person has registered such animals with the local law enforcement.