Originally created 12/31/98

Drug bust finds infant alligator



VALDOSTA, Ga. -- An 8-inch baby alligator kept calling for its momma but otherwise was adapting well to its new home at a state wildlife education center after being rescued by authorities during a Coffee County drug bust.

"He's just a little bitty guy," said Tip Hon, regional wildlife supervisor for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in Fitzgerald. "He's probably a late hatchling and is only about 2 or 3 months old. But he's eating well now and seems to be settling in all right."

The alligator is being cared for by department workers in the agency's education center at the state's 6,000-acre Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area near Valdosta.

Mark Day, a department wildlife technician, seized the reptile Saturday after Coffee County sheriff's deputies discovered it along with some marijuana and a county road sign inside a Broxton home.

Alligators are protected as a threatened species under Georgia law. It is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine, to possess an alligator without a license.

Coffee County Sheriff Carlton Evans said deputies initially went to the home in the 1300 block of Brooks Road to investigate a complaint about loud music.

As they knocked on the glass front door, deputies saw the alligator, some marijuana, drug paraphernalia and road sign -- all in plain view -- inside the home, according to Sheriff Evans.