Men accused of decapitating gator

Wildlife officers say killing alligators illegal, dangerous.

POSTED: 7:14 PM Sep 06 2012   UPDATED: 8:39 PM Sep 06 2012
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ONSLOW COUNTY -

Four men, including a Camp Lejeune Marine, are facing misdemeanor charges for allegedly killing an alligator.

Doug Jones, an officer in the Division of Law Enforcement at the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, says the men stabbed and decapitated the gator.

It happened Friday night at the Bermuda Landing development off Highway 210 in North Topsail Beach.

According to a police report, officers were dispatched to a deck area in the development. They found four people processing the alligator meat.

Marine Corps 1st Lt. Daniel Putnam, 24, Ruben Maldonado, 54, Wesley Riddle, 33, and Donald Lowe, 27, had stabbed the alligator, separating its head, tail, and torso, according to wildlife officers.

Investigators say the men were planning to consume the alligator tail meat.

Sergeant Charles Smith, an enforcement officer with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, says alligators are common in the coastal regions of southeast North Carolina.

"Just because you see an alligator, if you see an alligator in a creek or if your backyard butts up to a creek, that doesn't necessarily mean that you have a nuisance alligator," Smith said.

Smith says residents should contact wildlife officers if they are concerned about a particular alligator. In most cases, it is not necessary to do anything if you see an alligator. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission typically will not relocate alligators unless there is a threat to the animal or nearby humans.

Smith says, in addition to the criminal penalty, those convicted of killing an alligator will have to pay more than $4,000 in replacement costs.

The men have a court date on October 30th.