The Suffolk County SPCA said a baby alligator was recently spotted near the courthouses in Central Islip.
A woman walking her dog spotted the one-foot long alligator and observed it entering a nearby pond as she approached the reptile, according to Suffolk SPCA Chief Roy Gross.
The woman reported the incident to court officers, who then contacted the Suffolk SPCA.
Investigators from the organization and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation responded and also saw the alligator enter the pond. Investigators wearing wet suits entered the water in a failed attempt to grab the alligator.
Gross said the alligator is “facing a death sentence” because of the cold temperatures at nightfall and the near-freezing water temperature in the pond.
The person who abandoned the alligator and placed it there could face a penalty of up to two years in jail, Gross said.
Suffolk SPCA investigators are reviewing courthouse security cameras for clues, Gross said.
The alligator sighting comes less than two years after a shocking number of alligators were found throughout Long Island. At one point, 16 gators were discovered over a nine-month period, which Gross said was “unheard of.” In many instances, the gators were found in public areas.
It is illegal to own an alligator without a permit.
Anyone with information regarding the latest sighting is asked to contact the Suffolk County SPCA at 631-382-7722.