Decapitated Alligator Found Along Florida Road

Wildlife officials launched a criminal investigation on Wednesday, after an alligator was found decapitated on the side of a Florida road.

The 10-foot alligator, whose body was badly decomposed, was spotted by a local couple along State Road 62 in Parrish, Manatee County, with its head cut off, according to ABC 7.

Heather Morneau, who alerted the authorities to the incident, told Fox 13 that she and her husband were puzzled by the situation, saying: "We thought the worst. We thought that someone had chopped off its head. We were trying to figure out if someone would do that."

She said that it looked like there were "bullet holes" in the dead animal's body, before describing the situation as "horrible" and something she thought the authorities should know about.

Officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) responded to the scene after being alerted to the alligator by the concerned residents.

The commission then launched an investigation into the incident, as killing an alligator in Florida without having the proper license is illegal.

Although Florida has a statewide alligator harvest between August 15 to November 1 every year, only those with the required permit can kill alligators, with anyone breaking the law possibly facing a third-degree felony.

The dumping of debris weighing over 15 pounds is also a first-degree misdemeanor, while the possession of alligator parts without a permit is against state law, according to SNN news.

A spokesperson for the commission told Fox 13 that whether someone killed the alligator without a license or just took the head as a trophy is not necessarily important, as both acts are against state law.

Wednesday's find is not the first time a beheaded alligator has been found on the side of a Florida road, as one was discovered in nearby Sarasota in October 2019.

Kimberly Kukich, who found that alligator, told CBS 4 that it looked like the animal's head had been cut off by a chainsaw, writing on Facebook: "I am appalled to see this. I stopped because I thought it was a large gator. It turned out to be someone decapitated the gator."

That incident was also investigated by the FWC, and the agency set up a helpline for people to report any information about the discovery.

Although alligators were listed on the federal endangered list in 1967, they were taken off it in 1987 as their population stabilized. Defenders of Wildlife reported that there are currently 1.25 million alligators in Florida.

Newsweek has contacted the FWC for comment.

Alligator found decapitated in Florida
American alligator in a swamp in south Florida. An alligator was found decapitated in Florida on Monday. williamhc/iStock / Getty Images Plus