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Sep 02, 2023Sep 02, 2023

By Elijah Westbrook

August 29, 2023 / 12:25 PM / CBS New York

MIDDLESEX, N.J. -- A park in New Jersey remained closed on Tuesday as the search continued for an alligator that was spotted in a lake at least half a dozen times since late last week.

In the quiet town of Middlesex, there's a reptile hiding in the water and a calculated effort is underway to catch it.

Wildlife officials are searching for an alligator, that is believed to be up to 4 feet in length, in the waters of the Ambrose Brook, a conduit between Lake Creighton and the Raritan River.

Where that gator is at any one moment is anyone's guess.

"It's got sharp teeth, so you've gotta be careful," Middlesex resident Scott Schwyher said.

Those who live along the creek, like Schwyher, can't seem to wrap their heads around this one. The unusual discovery has residents keeping their eyes peeled, even poking fun at the situation.

Nearby resident Kristin Tattuli put an inflatable alligator in her backyard.

"We decided to have some fun with our neighbors and the people in the park," Tattuli said.

The inflatable even took CBS New York surprise, seeing it from a bit of a distance.

"We weren't sure where to put 'em, but we thought that would be a good spot," Tattuli said.

The inflatable gator on her shed was just feet from the water and it's not the only thing staring at it. Throughout Tuesday morning, the town's emergency management has been using a small boat to diligently glide along the creek to find the nearly reptile.

"The suspicion is that someone had it as a pet and just released it, which is common. When the alligator gets bigger, they are unmanageable," Middlesex Mayor John Madden said.

As the search continues, yellow tape surrounds the perimeter of the park as a safety precaution barrier to alert visitors to stay away.

"I think it's a little crazy," Karena Tattuli said.

"It doesn't scare me at all. It's already that little, I think I can outrun it," resident Mike Colatti said with a laugh.

The state's Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Fish and Wildlife are working to set up a humane trap to capture the alligator.

In the meantime, if you see it you are advised not to approach or attempt to capture it and to call police immediately.

Elijah Westbrook is an Emmy Award-winning journalist. He joined CBS2 News and CBS News New York in January 2022.

First published on August 29, 2023 / 12:25 PM

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