8-foot-7-inch gator caught at car dealer

April 29, 2009 at 6:13 PM

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla., April 29 (UPI) -- A woman browsing cars at a Florida dealership discovered an 8-foot-7-inch alligator next to a vehicle she was planning to test drive, witnesses said.

Michael Chaparro, 24, a salesman at Sun Toyota in New Port Richey, said he called 911 after customer Denise Anderson, 33, spotted the mammoth reptile Tuesday morning near a Toyota Sequoia, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times reported Wednesday.

Chaparro said Pasco County sheriff's deputies cordoned off the area while a professional trapper prodded the animal out from under a car and caught it with a lasso.

The salesman said he asked the trapper if he was planning to release the gator back into the wild.

"And he said, 'Yeah, I'll release it -- into my cooler,'" Chaparro said. "He said he was taking it back to Dade City to eat it."

Mark Lewis, a duty officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said captured alligators are "generally disposed" if they measure longer than 4 feet.

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