In what Nassau County Police Department 1st Precinct officials deemed an “unusual incident,” two small alligators, each between 2 and 3 feet long, were discovered in the parking lot of the Pathmark on Grand Avenue last week.
The first find was reported at 7:51 p.m. on Oct. 2, and the second in the same area at 3:40 p.m. the following day. The Nassau County SPCA offered a $1,000 reward for “information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who released this dangerous reptile” after the first alligator was discovered. It doubled the reward when the second one was found.
Linda Degen, crocodile hunter
Police had not released the details of the second alligator’s discovery as the Herald went to press, but Linda Degen, a community activist and founder of A Better Baldwin, found and reported the first one.
“It was so weird,” Degen said. “I went out the side entrance of the Pathmark, and all of a sudden I saw what I thought was a lizard.” Degen explained that because it was dark, she saw the animal only when her car lights hit it. “At first I thought it was an iguana,” she said, “but then I looked again and it was an alligator, about three feet long.”
Degen immediately called 911, then watched the alligator while police made their way to the scene. “I wasn’t scared,” she recalled. “In fact, I thought it might be injured. It looked like it was limping a little. It was trying to get up a curb and having trouble. I was worried it would wander into the road or something, so I shone my lights on it. It went and hid under a bush along Grand Avenue until the police came.”
Degen said that the police response was rapid, estimating that a patrol was on hand in around four minutes. “They were just as amazed as I was,” she said.
The police called a county Emergency Services Unit, which captured the alligator and held it until a wildlife expert could be contacted. The man they called was Bob O’Brien, a retired NCPD officer and the department’s go-to guy for reptile