HANCOCK COUNTY — DNR officers have pulled all manner of wildlife from Indiana waters, but Monday they stumbled across something unusual on the county’s north side: a crocodile.
Three feet long and with no business being in Brandywine Creek.
On Monday evening, Indiana conservation officers responded to a call from a landowner in northern Hancock County who said he saw something resembling an alligator swimming through Brandywine Creek near his property.
Indiana Conservation Officer Ted Stine came to the area to look into the report and found tracks in the mud that looked like they might belong to an alligator, according to a DNR news release.
Using spotlights and a large net, conservation officers located the reptile and pulled it from the creek a short while later. But it wasn’t an alligator they found. The 3-foot-long animal was identified as a crocodile.
Crocodiles and alligators are not native to Indiana, though some Hoosiers keep them as pets. In the United States, they’re native to only southern Florida, according to the National Park Service.
Now, the crocodile is being housed at a secure facility — which officers did not disclose — until a suitable home can be found. DNR officers are also looking for the person responsible for releasing the reptile into the creek.
In Indiana, it’s legal to possess a crocodile up to 5 feet long without a state permit, though some species require a federal permit. Male crocodiles typically grow to 14 feet, and females grow up to 12 feet long, the National Park Service states.
Crocodiles and alligators have been pulled from Indiana waters before, the DNR states.
“Crocodilians are generally purchased by people who are interested in caring for an exotic and exciting pet, but they soon realize that proper care is difficult and expensive.” DNR Capt. Bill Browne said in a news release.
Officers are looking for information about where the crocodile came from and have asked the public to share any information they might have. Residents may autonomously call the DNR tipline at 800-847-4367.
Officers want to ensure whoever released the reptile isn’t housing other wild animals that also could be released, a news release states.