SUMMERDALE, Alabama — On Tuesday, May 7, officers from Summerdale Police Department responded to an animal cruelty complaint at Alligator Alley.
Wes Moore, owner, called to file a report about one of his older alligators named Shifty. The animal was noticeably ill since approximately April 26 and was found dead in the facility a few days later.
“I noticed that he was coughing a lot, which is not so unusual, but he just wasn’t acting right,” Moore said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “Sunday morning, I got a call that there was a large alligator dead in the park. They sent me a photo and I immediately knew it was him.
“We went out to examine him and something didn’t seem right. He didn’t have any surface wounds or any sign that there was anything wrong with him. When we peeled back his boney plate, I discovered a large hematoma and what appeared to be a bullet hole.”
The animal was sent out for an examination and x-rays, and it was found that the animal had been shot through the lungs. At this time there are no leads, however the case is currently under investigation.
While there was some speculation that the animal could have been shot through an opening at the back of the park, Moore said that from the angle, it appears that he was shot from one of the platforms in the park.
“We have four security cameras in the park and we are currently examining all of our footage going back to Easter weekend to see if we can find anything out of place, but it’s taking some time,” Moore said. “Everything about this situation infuriates me, but what infuriates me most is the fact that this likely happened from one of our platforms during operating hours.”
Moore said Shifty was one of his original alligators, who has been a resident of the park for more than 15 years.
“He was one of our more reliable gators,” Moore said, “always in the same place, so he was one of the ones visitors to the park would seek out. He was just doing what he does, hanging out in his home. For him to be shot by a weapon that was obviously not going to kill him right away, so he suffered for several days before he died, it’s just infuriating.”
The person or persons responsible are facing state charges of cruelty to animals, killing or destroying livestock and federal charges under 16 USC 1531, which is the Endangered Species Act that protects endangered species.
Moore has posted an award of $3,000 for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for this death.
“Somebody out there is going to brag about it and we’re going to catch who did this,” Moore said. “I am really looking forward to that day.”
Information for this report provided by the Summerdale Police Department with additional reporting by Onlooker co-editor John Underwood.