Since January, at least four alligators have been killed illegally in Pasco County, Florida, which is located on the Gulf Coast near Tampa. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is currently leading two separate investigations into the incidents.
One investigation involves a ring of four suspects who allegedly played a role in poaching three alligators in the Land o’ Lakes area. Two of those alligators were shot with a .22-caliber rifle. The other was reportedly killed with a machete. The second investigation involves three Pinellas County residents who killed an alligator with a pickaxe.
Alligator Poached with Pickaxe in Holiday
An anonymous caller witnessed a trio of Pinellas County residents kill a 5 1/2-foot alligator on the evening of May 3 in the coastal town of Holiday. The witness then reported the event to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. When authorities found the suspects, they admitted killing the gator. The arrest report said two of the men accused the third of using a “weapon that appeared to be a small pickaxe to dispatch the alligator,” reports WFLA.
The three men, whose identities remain unknown, have been charged with illegal killing, possessing, or capturing of alligators. Such a crime is a third-degree felony under Florida law and is punishable by five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Authorities also confiscated the alligator carcass as evidence in the investigation, which is ongoing, an FWC official told Outdoor Life in an email.
Three Alligators Shot, Chopped to Death in Land o’ Lakes
In a separate gator poaching case, suspects Gregory Pellikan, 35, Scott Hess, 43, and James Foxworth, 61, were arrested on March 10 and charged with one count each of illegal killing, possessing, or capturing of alligators, according to Pasco County Corrections records. They are three of the four primary suspects in the trio of alligator poaching incidents that occurred along State Road 52 near Land o’ Lakes.
From left to right: Greg Pellikan, Scott Hess, James Foxworth, and Daniel Palumbo. Pasco County Corrections
According to arrest affidavits FWC released to Outdoor Life, Hess admitted to poaching one alligator on Jan. 31 and another on Feb. 14 with a .22-caliber rifle. Pellikan then transported the two gators in his work truck to Foxworth’s home, where Foxworth processed the meat. Hess was in possession of the meat when the investigating officer interviewed him on March 9.
A third alligator was poached on March 31 when a fourth suspect, 39-year-old Daniel Palumbo, reportedly hacked a gator to death with a machete in Five Mile Creek. Palumbo dragged the gator uphill and put it in Pellikan’s work truck. Palumbo was arrested and charged on April 28 after Pellikan sent a video of Palumbo killing the gator with the machete to the investigating officer, per Palumbo’s arrest affidavit. Palumbo admitted to the crime and turned himself in for booking at the Pasco County jail.
Read Next: Two Florida Men Arrested for Poaching Deer in a Subdivision with a Pellet Gun
FWC is asking the public for any further information regarding illegal wildlife activity at the Angeline living community worksite on State Road 52 just east of the Suncoast Parkway, near Fivay Junction. Submit an online tip here or call 1-888-404-3922.
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