FRANKFORT, KY (FOX 56) — A Harlan County man is facing charges following an investigation regarding an alligator in a creek near the community of Big Laurel.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife received a tip on June 19 about an alligator roaming Greasy Creek in Harlan County.
Conservation officer Kyle Clark and Wildlife Technician Aaron Smith were dispatched to the area and found the four-and-a-half foot alligator in a portion of the creek near KY Highway 2008. The two left the area to retrieve equipment to capture the animal, but when they returned, they found a blood trail leading from the creek to the highway.
The conservation officers’ investigation led them to the residence of a relative of Cameron Cornett, 23, of Big Laurel. Clark reported seeing blood in the bed of a truck on the property. The relative told officers that Cornett brought the alligator into the state from Florida and was keeping it in an enclosure, but that it had escaped two weeks earlier.
The whereabouts of the alligator were unknown to officers until a video of it in Greasy Creek was published on social media. The relative in question told officer Clark that Cornett was concerned about the viral video and instructed him to kill the alligator.
Cornett is charged with illegally transporting and possessing an inherently dangerous exotic animal, not reporting its escape to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, and not having a permit for other exotic animals in his possession.
Officer Clark emphasized that there are laws against importing exotic animals due to the danger they present to humans and native species.
“Alligators don’t make good pets. Even a smaller one can injure a person,” Clark stated. “When an alligator grows beyond a person’s capacity to care for it, oftentimes it gets released into the wild, and then it becomes a potential danger to others. Besides, it’s unlikely to survive through the winter.”
Officer Clark was able to seize the carcass of the alligator.