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FL: Man charged with illegal gator trapping

Aug 6, 2010

Man charged with illegal gator trapping

FORT PIERCE, Fla. -- Authorities in Florida said two men who allegedly tried to capture an alligator that clamped down on a woman's boot are facing illegal trapping charges.

A St. Lucie County Fire District spokeswoman said Donald Herchenroder, 27, a firefighter and paramedic with the district, and Peter Berger, 23, were arrested Wednesday and charged with a felony count of unlawful taking of an alligator, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Friday.

A witness told investigators he saw the two men and an 18-year-old woman, whose name wasn't released, trying to catch a 4-foot alligator July 14 in Palm Lake.

"Once they caught it and brought it in (the witness) observed the girl ... jump on the back of the alligator," an affidavit states. "(The witness) then observed (the woman) hitting the alligator with an object."

The alligator clamped down on the woman's boot and the men used a hatchet to pry the gator's jaws open, the witness said.

The witness said the trio threw the reptile back into the water.

Officials said an alligator trapper found the animal with fishing line in its mouth. The alligator was euthanized and the trapper found "a large hook with a large chunk of meat, appearing to be chicken, attached to the line."

Authorities said the woman is also facing charges but it was unclear Friday whether she had been arrested..

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