Saturday, July 21, 2007
By JOHN A. GAVIN
STAFF WRITER, Bergen Record
CARLSTADT – A three-foot alligator walked into the back door of a storage-space design business on Veterans Boulevard on Friday, startling employees and puzzling authorities about how the reptile arrived in the Meadowlands.
After police received the call at 8:48 a.m., they found the creature trapped behind equipment and wood that employees had managed to put in front of him.
"The rear door was propped open," Lt. William Ochiuzzo said. "He managed to walk through the door. They kind of cornered him to keep him from going any further."
In the escapade, Norman Holtz, who owns Closets by Design, said about 30 employees were caught off-guard when the creature walked in the company's factory.
"It was big," Holtz said. "We saw it and we all got scared. When we called the police and animal control, nobody believed us."
Once the area was secure, police waited for authorities with the Clifton Animal Control, Ochiuzzo said.
Robert Boyle, a Clifton animal control officer, turned the reptile over to the state Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife.
In a heavily wooded area near several creeks and waterways, Boyle said the warm weather probably made the creature feel it was in its natural habitat. He estimated the animal to be about 2 or 3 years old.
"I've picked up an iguana and a lizard, but never this," said Boyle, a 27-year veteran. "Best we can figure, it was somebody's pet that was let go. It probably was just wandering through looking for food."