LAKELAND, FOX 13 - FWC is looking into at least two cases in the Tampa Bay area of mutilated alligators.
On Sunday, a woman saw a mutilated gator on the side of Highway 37 in Lakeland, about a mile from Mulberry. The head and tail were both missing, though exactly how happened is still unknown. FWC says it is looking into it.
Last week, a pair of smaller sized alligators were found belly up with their tails missing in Myakka City. FWC is investigating that case as well.
According to state law, it is a felony to hurt or kill an alligator.
“It always bothers me when I see something like that,” said John Paner, the director of Croc Encounters in Tampa.
“First of all it’s illegal," continued Paner. "Secondly, they're probably not harvesting the correct methods. I don’t know how they're killing them and catching them, but more than that they're taking them from an area that maybe doesn't have a big alligator population. It’s not going through that management; it's wrong on a lot of levels."
Paner says in all three cases, the tails were likely cut off for the meat and the head may have been a trophy in the Lakeland case.
“Like any kind of animal there's a lot of poaching like that and that's really not respectful to the animals to the law and the citizens,” he said.
FWC wants anyone with tips and leads on either case to call their Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. If your tip leads to an arrest, you could be eligible for a reward.