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Reptile in Seacoast river was probably released by unpermitted owner

By John Quinn
Union Leader Correspondent

July 09. 2013 9:19PM

Newmarket Officer Wayne Stevens holds the alligator shortly after its capture Friday night. (COURTESY)

NEWMARKET — A 3-foot alligator was captured from the Lamprey River, almost certainly dumped by its owner.

Police responded around 8 p.m. Friday after a Newmarket Mills apartment resident spotted the alligator climbing onto the river bank. Eventually, police officer Wayne Stevens and James Benvenuti, a conservation officer with New Hampshire Fish and Game, used a dog noose to pull the alligator from an area near the dam behind the Main Street apartment complex.

Benvenuti said no one was injured, including the alligator.

"There's definitely no cause for alarm," Benvenuti said, adding: "These animals deserve respect."

He said Fish and Game receives "less than one" report of alligators in the state each year and there has never been a report of an injury.

The alligator is being cared for by Kevin McCurley, owner of New England Reptile Distributors in Plaistow.

"She's real friendly and doesn't bite," McCurley said, adding the alligator shows signs of scarring where someone wrapped tape around its snout in the past.

McCurley owns several alligators, including one that weighs 200 pounds and loves pizza.

"Everyone's fascinated by alligators," McCurley said. "They're either afraid of them or they love them."

Alligators released into the wild perish when water temperatures drop below 40 degrees, he said.

Benvenuti said alligators are classified as a controlled species. Residents interested in owning an alligator must acquire a wildlife exhibitor permit from the state, be subject to investigations and obtain federal permits from U.S. Fish & Wildlife or the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Benvenuti said it is a violation to keep an unregistered alligator, which could result in up to a $2,000 fine.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Newmarket police at 659-6636 or call Fish & Game's Game Thief Hotline at (800) 344-4262.

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