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Authorities find 12-foot 'gator tied to tree near Hillsborough River

TAMPA — Authorities are looking for the person, or people, who thought it was a good idea to tie up an approximately 12-foot alligator behind an apartment complex along the Hillsborough River.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission received a call Wednesday afternoon about children feeding and harassing an alligator in the river behind Rivertree Landing Apartments, 6909 Indian River Drive, just north of E Sligh Avenue near Temple Terrace.

When wildlife officers arrived, they found the alligator, weighing more than 500 pounds, tethered to a tree near the river.

Officers and a local trapper captured the alligator, which was later euthanized.

Any alligator that has been fed by humans is deemed a threat, according to agency spokesman Baryl Martin.

"Any time an animal is fed, especially an alligator, it begins to associate humans with food," Martin said.

Whoever tied up the alligator could be guilty of either attempting to take an alligator or possession of an alligator without permits — crimes that can be considered felonies under Florida law, Martin said.

He urged anyone with information about the incident to contact the wildlife commission toll-free at 1-888-404-3922.

Will Hobson can be reached at (813) 226-3400 or whobson@tampabay.com.

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