In what First Precinct officials deemed an “unusual incident,” a small alligator, between two and three feet in length, was observed walking in the parking lot of the Pathmark at 1764 Grand Ave. in Baldwin at 7:51 p.m. Tuesday night.
Linda Degen, founder of A Better Baldwin—a community improvement group—made a distinct contribution to the betterment of Baldwin by discovering the alligator and reporting it to police.
“It was so weird,” Degen told the Herald. “I went out the side entrance of the Pathmark and all of a sudden I saw what I thought was lizard.” Degen clarified that because it was dark out, she detected the animal when her car’s lights hit its eyes. “At first I thought it was an iguana,” Degen continued, “but then I looked again and it was alligator about three feet long.”
Degen immediately called 911, then waited to watch the animal while police reached the scene. “I wasn’t scared,” Degen recalled. “In fact, I thought it might be injured. It looked like it was limping a little. It was trying to get up a curb and having trouble. I was worried it would wander into the road or something, so I shone my lights on it. It went and hid under a bush along Grand Avenue until the police came.”
Degen said police response was rapid, estimating that a patrol was on hand in around four minutes.
“They were just as amazed as I was,” Degen said.
The first responders called in some help from a Nassau County Emergency Services Unit, which captured the alligator and took it to a safe place. According to the public information desk at the First Precinct, the alligator will eventually be released to a local wildlife expert. Police believe this expert will care for the alligator until it can be transported to Florida.
This marked the second occasion within the last week that an alligtor has been found on Long Island. In the earlier incident a 2 1/2-foot-long alligator was found in Mastic Beach. Auhtorities have not yet traced the source of either animal, but around midday on Wednesday the Nassau County SPCA announced a $1,000 reward relating to the Baldwin beast. The reward is "for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who released this dangerous reptile." Anyone who has information can call (516) THE-SPCA.