A Florida police officer can now add "alligator wrestler" to his resume after he wrangled a hissing gator from the front porch of a home during an encounter caught on video earlier this month.
Boynton Beach Police released bodycam footage Wednesday of Officer Alfredo Vargas responding to a call on July 10 from a resident complaining about an alligator laying outside his front door.
When Vargas arrived at the scene, police said he called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and learned it would take about 30 minutes for a trapper to arrive. The officer was then told the trapper would most likely kill the gator.
Vargas didn't want to see the animal killed, and was told by FWC he could release the reptile elsewhere if he wanted. It turned out he previously learned how to handle alligators at the Native Village in Hollywood, Fla. and was mentored by two of the “Gator Boys," who have a show on Animal Planet.
“Initially, I took a tour of the facility back in ’04, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is pretty cool. I want to learn how to do it,’ so I did," Vargas said at a press conference. "I volunteered at the facility, and they showed me how to actually properly hand-catch an alligator."
In the video, Vargas is seen trying to subdue the alligator as it bares its teeth and thrashes around on the floor. Vargas eventually made a makeshift catch pole.
“I was making a little clicking sound, making just, like, a little baby gator’s noise," Vargas told reporters. "It normally gets alligators to react because they’re very protective of their young."
Vargas was eventually able to wrestle the gator, and with the help of another officer, tape the reptile's mouth shut.
“It’s not the safest thing to do, but if you do it properly you learn the alligators behavior," he said. "You make it as safe as possible."
The gator was then placed in the back of his patrol car and released in a canal a few miles away.