SELDEN, N.Y. (AP) — Owners of illegal alligators and other reptiles were given a chance to turn them in with no questions asked at a Long Island pet store Saturday.
The reptile amnesty event at a Petco in Selden was organized by the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in coordination with New York state and federal wildlife authorities.
Chief Roy Gross of the Suffolk SPCA said dozens of alligators and other illegal reptiles have been abandoned on Long Island in recent years. He said there were 16 abandoned alligators in Suffolk County in one nine-month period.
One gator was left in a plastic container at an Applebee's parking lot and another was swimming in a river where people launch canoes and kayaks.
Gross said people buy alligators online or in states where they are legal and then abandon them when they grow too dangerous to handle.
"There's a reason that they're illegal," he said.
Possessing an alligator is a violation subject to a fine of up to $150 but abandoning one in a public place is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison, Gross said.
He said the animals turned in Saturday would be sent to zoos and other safe locations.