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5-foot gator still loose in Trenton pond

One alligator down, one more to go.

One alligator down, one more to go.

Last week, a man in Sussex County, N.J., was shocked to find a 30-inch gator behind the grill on his deck.

A Sparta animal control officer snared it and turned it over to the state Division of Fish and Wildlife, according to the Morris County Daily Record.

This morning, state wildlife officials began another attempt to catch an even bigger alligator that's been living in a Trenton pond for at least two weeks.

The public is asked to stay away, since crowds will hamper the capture efforts, said Darlene Yuhas, spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

This alligator's about five feet long, said Jose Munoz, who manages the city's animal shelter.

A children's fishing derby at the Stacy Park pond was canceled over the weekend, and nearby residents have been warned to stay away, although the creature's not likely to attack people - "unless someone inexperienced goes and tries to catch it," he said.

The state set traps a couple of weeks ago, after the first sightings.

"They baited the lures with chicken wings, without the sauce," Yuhas told the Trentonian then.

It didn't even show its face that day. "It may have just gone to the bottom to hide out," she said.

Yesterday, the gator was spotted again, so another attempt is being made today, Yuhas said.

Most alligators found in the wild in New Jersey or Pennsylvania are pets that escaped or were set free, officials say.

The state might get calls about a half-dozen alligators a year, she said. But they're not all on the loose.

"Sometimes they are located in homes and confiscated," she said.

It's illegal to own an alligator in New Jersey as a pet, Yuhas said. Only the likes of zoos and wildlife exhibitors are granted special permits to keep alligators.

"They're wild animals, and they shouldn't be kept as pets," she said. "... They do get much too large to handle."

Captured alligators are relocated them to places they can survive, such as Florida.

Alligators are highly unlikely to live through a Northeast winter outdoors.