Wranglers Nab L.A.'s Elusive Urban Gator

Wranglers early Tuesday nabbed a 7-foot-long alligator named "Reggie" from a city lake where he had been dumped several months ago by a former police officer and repeatedly avoided capture.

"He put up a good fight," said Jay Young, who helped catch the alligator (search) along with a crew of handlers from Colorado. "We're so excited right now."

Because he had evaded officials for so long, Reggie had become a local phenomenon that drew gator wranglers from thousands of miles away and crowds of onlookers who tossed jelly doughnuts, tortillas and raw chicken into the lake to try to draw him out.

Young, 47, said his crew spotted the 180-pound reptile resting on land near the shore of Machado Lake in South Los Angeles. His brother, Noah Young, then walked up and slipped a rope around the gator's neck, he said.

But the gator began thrashing about when they tried to subdue it, Young said. He said he held its mouth shut while the crew taped it shut and wrapped the gator in a blanket. They planned to transport it to the Los Angeles Zoo (search).

"The L.A. Zoo's got a very popular attraction coming its way," Young said.

Young was just the latest in a parade of self-described gator experts who had visited Lake Machado in hopes of catching Reggie. He tried unsuccessfully to catch Reggie last month, showing up in full Crocodile Dundee regalia: hat, alligator-tooth necklace and leather pants.

Young said the city paid him $1,600 for his first attempt to catch Reggie. He said he donated his services this time.

Reggie was first spotted in 53-acre Machado Lake (search) on Aug. 12. A former Los Angeles police officer was arrested for allegedly dumping Reggie several months ago when it got too big to keep as a pet. Another man who allegedly gave the gator to the former officer was also arrested.

The effort to find Reggie — and keep people from being attacked — had cost the city $50,000 as of early September, said Ron Berkowitz, director of the Los Angeles Parks Department. That includes overtime for having a park ranger and lifeguard on duty around the clock.

Last Thursday, a smaller, 3-foot-long gator dubbed "Little Reggie" was caught in a Harbor City flood control channel about a mile from Machado Lake.

Little Reggie also was taken to the Los Angeles Zoo.