A few spins around frozen Lake Marion Feb. 1 led to a memorable find for a Lakeville teenager and his family.
John Anton, 17, a Lakeville South High School junior, was riding with his father in a truck on the ice-covered lake when he spotted an odd shaped dark spot that stood out against the white snow.
Closer investigation revealed it was the head and torso of a small alligator.
“We were shocked,” said John’s mother Karin Anton. “We have never seen anything like this.”
It is not known how the alligator ended up on the lake, but Lori Naumann, non game wildlife information officer with the Department of a Natural Resources, said she suspects it was purchased as a pet that was released when it became too much to manage.
The owners, she said, “probably became disenchanted with having this creature … that gets big and ugly and wants to chew your arm off.”
Naumann said the alligator had been consumed by predators before it was discovered by John.
It is against state law to release alligators in the wild, but she said it is not illegal to own an alligator in Minnesota as long as the owner can has proof it was legally purchased and not just plucked from the wild.
She said city ordinances would override state law.
Lakeville City Administrator Steve Mielke said city zoning ordinances do not allow wild or domesticated wild animals to be kept as pets.
If the reptile had been alive, the DNR would have come to the lake and tried to capture it, Karin said, but since it was dead they were told just to dispose of it.
Karin said the family decided to keep the alligator around for a while “as a conversation piece,” and photos of the new family mascot drew a lot of attention on John’s Facebook page.
John dubbed it “Frozen Bites,” and some friends joked they would be leery of swimming in Lake Marion in the future.
“I don’t think it would have hurt anybody,” Karin said, admitting that the family became a little attached to it during the month it spent outside their house.
“We were a little sad when we threw it away,” she said.