Forget the professional alligator wranglers, with their reptilian mating calls and fang necklaces. It was the Los Angeles Fire Department that finally netted one of two renegade gators lurking in the waterways of Harbor City on Thursday night.
After bystanders spotted a 2- to 3-foot alligator in a murky flood channel near Lake Machado behind an apartment complex, firefighters used an enormous ladder and a net to snare the creature and haul him into captivity.
"This could be a first," said LAFD spokesman Jim Wells. "I've been on the job for 30 years and I've never heard of an alligator rescue out of the water like this."
The creature, who has been called both "Ronnie" and "Little Reggie," is one of two alligators abandoned by their owners. Reggie, a much larger and much more famous alligator who was reportedly dumped into the lake by a former city police officer, remains at large.
The smaller alligator was spotted about 7:45 p.m. behind the Summer Winds apartment complex Thursday, and firefighters worked for about an hour to capture him, Wells said.
When firefighters arrived, the alligator appeared to be trying to escape from a net placed in the channel Wednesday by city parks employees. When the gator freed himself, firefighters lured him into an area where they could reach him by throwing meat into the water.
When they finally had him in position, they extended a ladder over the channel, and firefighter Ron Jimenez reached into the channel with a long-handled net and scooped the alligator out like a hooked fish.
The alligator appeared to be very worn out from his battle with the channel net. "He struggled mightily to get out of that net," Wells said.
Even so, firefighters took the precaution of taping the gator's mouth shut so he wouldn't bite.
City parks officials said they were glad to have the smaller alligator in custody, but they would rest easier when Reggie was finally caught. The bigger gator has been described as being between 6 and 10 feet long.