Image courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The Ray County Conservation Department has confirmed that a reptile found near Hardin was, in fact, an alligator.  A man fishing near Route J made the surprising discovery on Saturday. Click to hear KMZU’s Kristie Cross talk to Agent Tammi Pierson:

Tammi Pierson

Pierson said it took a moment for the fisherman to realize what he had found. “He saw something along the bank that was partially in the water,”said Pierson,” It was upside down on it’s back and looked like a scaly fish. He then flipped it over and realized he had found an alligator.”

The alligator was approximately four feet in length, weighed about 30 pounds, and was obviously far from his original habitat. “It’s a warm weather species that we expect to find in the gulf area,” said Pierson,” Certainly our Missouri weather is not conducive to their bodies and so it would not have gotten here naturally. We believe it was probably someone’s pet that may have gotten out of hand and, unfortunately, they released it into the wild.”

The owner of the animal has not been identified. According to Pierson, Ray County does have an ordinance against the possession of dangerous animals.