See ya later, alligator; Wildlife officials euthanize critter found near Murray

Published 12:48 pm Thursday, August 17, 2023


It’s no secret that alligators aren’t supposed to be in Kentucky, but because of illegal releases, it can happen.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife received reports in Murray earlier this week that an alligator was spotted near Coles Campground Road.

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Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel caught and euthanized the gator for safety reasons, but not before people went to check it out.

A local photographer, Shawna Munger, was curious about the reported sightings, so she picked up her camera and took photos.

The gator is still the talk of the town, and the incident is raising concerns. The manager of her business, Lorie Turner, told Munger about it.

“We get down there, and we almost thought it wasn’t there, and I was like, ‘Ahh, Shawna!’ and then the third-grade self of each of us just took over,” Turner said.

Munger and Turner had seen Facebook posts about the alligator over the past couple of days.

Munger said she wanted to capture this unbelievable moment.

“For me, I just wanted pictures of it. I wanted to capture it. That’s what I do, so the photographer in me just kind of took over, even though I am not a nature photographer. It just took over. I wanted to show it to my kids when they got older. I wanted to show my family in Tennessee. I wanted to show them this thing was here,” she said.

Adam Martin with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife said exotic pets should never be released into the wild.

“If you’re releasing animals that have interactions with the local wildlife, that could be releasing a large number, which forms a breeding population that then competes with natural wildlife. And the other thing that could happen is that you could be releasing diseases that are not actively in our area,” he said.

Simply owning an exotic pet could put you on the wrong side of the law. “There are lots of species and wildlife that you cannot own in Kentucky, just due to those issues, so yes, there are laws making that illegal. It’s also illegal to take in wildlife,” Martin said.

If you have an exotic animal you can no longer care for, contact wildlife rehabilitation.