For Riverhead animal control officer Jessica Eibs-Stankaitis, it's all in a day's work.
But even Eibs-Stankaitis admits capturing an alligator in a local pond is a bit out of the ordinary.
The alligator was discovered Monday afternoon by groundskeepers at Great Rock Golf Course in Wading River. The golf course called Riverhead Police and the animal control officer was dispatched to the scene.
"I was able to capture him using a catch pole," Eibs-Stankaitis said Wednesday.
Once the reptile was secured in the catch pole collar, she said, she was able to take him into custody.
"I approached him from behind and was able to grab his head, push his snout down and tape his mouth," Eibs-Stankaitis.
Alligators, for the uninitiated, have powerful jaws and a lot of teeth. Even a youngster like the 30-inch long gator hanging out in the golf course pond Monday could easily take off a finger, Eibs-Stankaitis said.
Eibs-Stankaitis called the Long Island Aquarium in downtown Riverhead. Joe Yaiullo, cofounder and curator, identified it as an American alligator and agreed to give it a home.
There are three other young alligators living at the aquarium, Yaiullo said Wednesday afternoon. They were all "confiscations," he said.
Keeping an alligator is illegal in New York, Eibs-Stankaitis said.
An American alligator can grow to 14 feet in length and can be quite dangerous to humans, Yaiullo said. They cannot be domesticated, but the youngster found at the golf course was almost certainly someone's pet, Yaiullo said. It was used to being handled and is actually quite friendly, he said. It's probably about three years old.
A tropical animal, it would not have survived the winter here, Yaiullo said. It was underweight, he said. It was probably living on frogs and small rodents, and not getting enough nourishment.
Though the aquarium has taken in a few alligators in the past, this is the first one found locally, Yaiullo said.
The aquarium is considering creating a permanent alligator exhibit, he said. "We can create an interactive, educational exhibit, where people can touch and hold them," he said. "They would have restraints around their mouths so they can't take any nips," he said.
There have been four alligators found on Long Island in just the past week. On Friday, a Mastic Beach resident spotted one in his yard. Tuesday, an alligator was found in a parking lot in Baldwin. Another gator was found in the same parking lot Wednesday. The other gators were captured and housed at area pet stores.
Unfortunately, there is a black market for these exotic reptiles, Eibs-Stankaitis said. People buy them, but as they get bigger, they don't know what to do with them and sometimes they turn them loose. "Maybe they think they are being humane, but far from it," she said. "It can't live in the wild in this climate."
The Riverhead animal control officer, hired part-time in February and full-time in August,said the young gator was not the most unusual thing she's encountered so far. Loose bulls in Northville have that honor, she said.
"But it comes with the territory."
RiverheadLOCAL photos by Peter Blasl
Editor's note: The orginally published version of this story said there were three gators found in the past week, omitting the second animal found in Baldwin. Nassau County police put out a news release about the first alligator discovered Tuesday night, but did not issue a news release about the second one found in the same location the following afternoon.