CASSELBERRY, Fla. – Police say they're sure they shot a four-foot-long, 80-pound monitor lizard that had been lurking here for months. Neighbors, though, want to see a carcass before letting their children and pets back outdoors.
The lizard didn't bite anyone, but police officers were authorized to kill it because of the potential danger it posed to small children and animals.
An officer shot the reptile twice Sunday but wasn't close enough to catch it before the animal scampered into a retention pond.
"There's no doubt that the thing was shot," said Lt. Dennis Stewart of the Casselberry Police Department. "We're concerned for the public's safety and concerned that the lizard not suffer."
Neighbors were waiting for authorities to find the lizard's carcass.
"I want to know that it is safe for the kids to come out. If they did shoot it, I'm sure it's going to be angry if it comes out now," said Ilene Gothelf, whose home borders the retention pond.
Authorities said the lizard was likely a pet that escaped or was illegally dumped. For months, it eluded wildlife officials and trappers. At one point, fans of a local morning radio program mistakenly believed there was a reward for its scales.
Monitor lizards have elongated necks and can range in size from about 6 inches to nearly 10 feet. The Komodo dragon is the most famous of these lizards.
The Casselberry lizard was less beloved than an alligator that eluded capture for two years in Los Angeles. The gator, a media darling named "Reggie," was finally wrestled into captivity Thursday.