Citra man helping baby gator lands in jail


Published: Friday, January 20, 2012 at 4:42 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 20, 2012 at 4:42 p.m.

CITRA – A foot-long alligator that looked “beat up” and “dehydrated” on the side of the road landed in a man's bathtub to be nursed back to health. The efforts of Good Samaritan Alexander Springer landed him in jail, however, charged with a second degree misdemeanor.

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Alexander R. Springer

Deputy Jorge Velez with the Marion County Sheriff's Office went to a home in the 500 block of Northwest 155th Street in Citra late Thursday in response to a domestic call. While at the home, Velez determined there had not been any act of domestic violence, he noted in his report.

However, a woman there led him to a bathtub, where the deputy saw the baby alligator swimming in water into which branches and tree limbs had been placed.

Springer, 55, told the deputy he got the reptile from a friend and was planning to release it Friday. He said the branches and tree limbs were for the gator's “environment.” He said he had the alligator for a couple of days and had fed it crickets for nourishment.

The deputy contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and spoke to a staffer, who said it is illegal to have an alligator and that Springer should be arrested. The staffer also said the alligator should be released in a nearby lake.

After the animal was released into the water, Springer was charged with possession of an alligator and was taken to the Marion County Jail, where he was booked in around 1 a.m. Friday. He was released around 8 a.m.

On Friday afternoon, Springer told a Star-Banner reporter he was driving on U.S. 301 early Tuesday when he saw the gator on the side of the road looking “beat up” and “dehydrated.”

“I just wanted to help the little guy,” he said, adding that the morning was cold and he didn't want to leave the creature outdoors, so he took it home and put it in a spare bathtub. He said he fed it crickets because it appeared weak, and put a piece of log in the tub so “he could climb.”

“I wasn't going to harm him. I just wanted to nurse him back to good health,” he said.

Springer said he did not know he was committing a crime.

FWC spokeswoman Joy Hill said it is a second degree misdemeanor to possess an alligator without a permit. She said if the alligator had bitten someone, a toxic bacteria they carry can cause death if not treated quickly with an antibiotic.

Hill said if anyone sees an alligator in distress they should call 1-888-404-3922 or a local law enforcement agency.

Contact Austin L. Miller at 867-4118 or austin.miller@starbanner.com.

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