SARASOTA, Fla. – A 49-year-old man has been cited in the stabbing death of an alligator nicknamed "Elvis" by the residents of the golf club community the reptile called home.
The five-foot alligator was found dying in October with a hunting knife lodged in its head. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (search) said Friday that Rick Allen Burns (search) of Sarasota told them he killed the alligator in self-defense while fishing on the pond.
Burns was cited with a misdemeanor charge of possession of an alligator without a permit. He faces a maximum fine of $500 and up to 60 days in jail if convicted.
Burns told Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators he killed the alligator after it bit on his baited hook. Burns said he reeled in the alligator and tried to cut the line, but the reptile lunged at him.
Residents at the golf course community had nicknamed the alligator "Elvis" when he first appeared about 18 months ago. Residents say the animal never hurt anyone or even ducks living nearby.
Investigators had offered a $1,000 reward for information leading an arrest and said Friday they were led to Burns through an anonymous tip.
"Some people are not aware of the seriousness of violating Florida's Wildlife Codes and are surprised to find that the FWC takes these situations very seriously," said investigator Mike Frantz in a statement. "Just as important as the FWCs commitment to solving wildlife crimes, are the citizens who take a stand on behalf of protecting Florida's wildlife and who help us in our quest."