A husband and wife found two dead alligators with their tails cut off, possibly for their meat, over the weekend and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has launched an investigation.
Crystal Ingramm and her husband were driving Sunday morning in Manatee County's Myakka City when they saw two small alligators on the side of the road, WFLA reports.
Initially, the couple thought the reptiles were caught on a barbed wire fence. However, they realized the alligators were killed when they approached.
“After looking at them you could tell it was done on purpose and the tails had been cut off,” Ingramm said.
Experts believe the animals were killed by poachers for their meat.
"That's where most of the meat is. Most of the edible meat is in the tail,” Justin Matthews with Matthews Wildlife Rescue told WFLA.
Killing an alligator, a federally protected species, without a permit is a third-degree felony. Those convicted could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Alligator hunting is strictly regulated. The hunting season runs from Aug. 15 to Nov. 1 and there are a limited number of permits distributed. Those who receive permits can only humanely kill two alligators.
Anyone with information on this case is urged to call FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.