Alligator sighting leads to charges against Harlan County man

The alligator’s whereabouts were not known until video of it in the creek surfaced on social...
The alligator’s whereabouts were not known until video of it in the creek surfaced on social media.(Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources)
Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 9:43 AM EDT
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BIG LAUREL, Ky. (WAVE) - A Harlan County man is facing charges after a Kentucky Department Fish and Wildlife Resources investigation into reports of an alligator near a creek in the community of Big Laurel.

Cameron Cornett, 23 of Big Laurel, is being charged with illegally transporting and possessing an inherently dangerous exotic animal, not reporting its escape to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and not having a permit for other exotic animals in his possession.

After receiving a tip on June 19, officials searched a portion of Greasy Creek for hours before finding the alligator. Officers located the four and half foot animal, they then left to get equipment to capture the alligator. When they returned, they found blood on a rock next to the creek and a blood trail leading to the highway.

The officers’ investigation led them to a home of relative of Cornett. Officers saw blood in the bed of a pickup truck and that was when a relative shared that Cornett brought the alligator to Kentucky from Florida and was keeping it in an enclosure in the front yard. The alligator had escaped two to three weeks earlier.

The alligator’s whereabouts were not known until video of it in the creek surfaced on social media. The relative told Clark that Cornett was concerned about the attention and gave instructions to kill the animal. The relative and another person did so.

Officers collected the carcass and cited Cornett on June 23.

“Alligators don’t make good pets. Even a smaller one can injure a person,” Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officer Kyle Clark said. “When an alligator grows beyond a person’s capacity to care for it, oftentimes it gets released into the wild, and then it becomes a potential danger to others. Besides, it’s unlikely to survive through the winter.”

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