Florida Man Pulled Over, Arrested After Officers Find Live Alligator in Front Seat

A Florida man was arrested last week after Hardee County police officers pulled him over for a traffic stop and discovered he was carrying illegal drugs and transporting a live alligator.

Anthony Richardson was stopped by deputies from the local sheriff's drug task force in the area of S.R. 64 and Pioneer Park in Zolfo Springs last Thursday, according to a media release. Police said they were told a live alligator was in the car's front seat just prior to a drug search of the vehicle.

Richardson claimed he was planning to release the gator into a nearby river. He admitted to not having alligator trapping or hunting licenses—two forms of permits which have to be obtained from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) before the animals can legally be taken from the wild.

Upon inspection, deputies found a small baby alligator with its mouth taped shut in a black bag on the car's front seat. FWC officials were contacted and advised the detectives to release it back into the wild. According to the Hardee County Sheriff's Office release, it was "safely released" into Peace River.

Richardson was booked and transported into the Hardee County Jail, police said. He was handed multiple drugs citations and charged with illegally possessing or capturing an alligator. It was revealed what forms of drugs were found on the suspect or if he was appointed a legal representative. The defendant's mugshot was posted online. Inmate records are not yet available.

Anthony Richardson
Anthony Richardson was stopped by deputies from the local sheriff's drug task force in the in the area of S.R. 64 and Pioneer Park in Zolfo Springs last Thursday. Hardee County Sheriff’s Office

In November last year, a 25-year-old Florida man was arrested after two dead alligators were found in his car's trunk by officers who were called to investigate suspected shop-lifting at a Florida Walmart.

Christian Elmore was detained by deputies from the St. Lucie police department after being accused of stealing fishing gear worth $230 from the sporting goods department of the Fort Pierce store. The FWC seized the alligators as evidence. "The dead alligators were in plain sight," an arrest affidavit noted.

The FWC stresses online that despite some unfortunate, and sometimes fatal, human encounters with the animals, alligators remain an "integral component of aquatic ecosystems" in Florida. A special program in the state currently permits the legal killing of approximately 7,000 nuisance alligators every year. These are often found in public areas.

As the wildlife agency has warned in a brochure that was published online: "Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits killing, harassing or possessing alligators. Handling even small alligators can result in injury."

Florida Man Pulled Over, Arrested After Officers Find Live Alligator in Front Seat | News
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