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Published: Saturday, 6/12/2004

Call of the wild turns out to be alligator

This alligator turned up at a farm south of Bowling Green. This alligator turned up at a farm south of Bowling Green.

RUDOLPH, Ohio - When Joe Stockwell went out back to feed the chickens, a surprise was waiting for him: a 31-inch alligator.

At first he didn't know what to make of the creature lying in the grass. He motioned to his wife to come over and check it out.

"The way it was laying, we thought it must be a lizard or iguana or something," Cindy Stockwell said yesterday.

They weren't sure what it was, but the chickens and barn cats knew enough to stay away.

"The only thing we can figure is, he was waiting for the chickens to come around," Mrs. Stockwell said.

The alligator had crawled between the two corn granaries on their Bays Road farm, about five miles south of Bowling Green.

Mr. Stockwell used an animal noose to capture the reptile and place it in a wooden box until sheriff's deputies arrived.

The Stockwells called the Wood County Sheriff's Department about 6:15 p.m. Thursday. Mrs. Stockwell said she and her husband believe the alligator crawled over to their farm from a ditch across the road.

Deputies called Dan VanVorhis, a state parole officer and former owner of pet stores, to come and get the alligator.

"I often get calls when they find weird creatures. I have a way of getting them to people who take care of them properly," Mr. VanVorhis said.

He kept the animal secure overnight and gave it to a wildlife rescue agency yesterday.

Unfortunately, Mr. VanVorhis said, people don't think of the long-term consequences when buying exotic or unusual animals.

"The end result is, they end up in the wild," he said, and many don't survive.

Mr. VanVorhis said the alligator found at the Stockwell home appeared to be in good health and probably was released recently.

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