|Updated: 5/18/2012 3:08 am
||Published: 5/17/2012 6:52 pm
SALINE COUNTY, AR – Ben Eslick and his friend are used to seeing deer, snakes and raccoons on their property. But they never expected to encounter an alligator.
A few weeks ago, they spotted the reptile in a pond not far from their homes, and learned the gator wasn't aggressive, but they worried about the safety of their dogs and possible small children.
They were able to lure the alligator to the side of the pond with raw meat, and then pulled him up on the bank and grabbed him.
Ben calls the alligator "Rex," and says he comfortable with people. "We think somebody had him as a pet and dropped him off in the pond, letting him loose."
Ben put Rex in a pen with a wading pool. "We've been giving him raw meat like chicken and hamburger and he's been eating it."
Ben says they would like to keep Rex, but Tim Shaw with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission says, "You can't possess them, buy them, or anything like that in Arkansas."
Ben and his friend agreed to turn Rex over to Shaw or face a fine. Unfortunately, Wildlife Officer Shaw was not quite equipped for Rex. "I was thinking he was a small gator, but it turned out to be about 3, 3 and a half foot long."
After finding a suitable carrier, Shaw will take Rex to the Hot Springs Alligator Farm.
Ben says this is an experience he'll always remember. "You never know where you're going to see one, and there was one out there."
Shaw says Ben and his friend did the right thing by calling Game and Fish and handing Rex over. However, Shaw says people should never attempt to catch an alligator in the wild. Call wildlife officers right away.