National News

Lakeland couple accused of killing trapped alligator, trying to sell meat door-to-door

Posted July 25

— A Lakeland couple is facing serious charges after a trapped alligator was discovered dead Sunday with its tail chopped off.

"Horrifying," said Greg Chronis. "It was terrible to see something like that."

Chronis lives across the street from Lake Parker in Lakeland.

Chronis called Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission this weekend for help dealing with a nuisance alligator.

According to FWC, after the trap was set, a contracted nuisance alligator trapper discovered the 7-foot gator dead, stabbed in the head with its tail cut off.

"That's just somebody quickly trying to get a piece of the gator that they think is the most valuable," said trapper Robb Upthegrove.

A witness told Upthegrove that a man and woman had been walking around the neighborhood west of the lake, trying to sell the alligator's tail.

"It's a horrible incident because usually people that do this are dangerous to a lot of wildlife," said Upthegrove.

Officers arrested 33-year-old Shaun Sparks of Lakeland for intentionally killing an alligator, a third-degree felony. Alligators are a federally-protected species.

Sparks' girlfriend, 27-year-old Christy Vincent of Lakeland, was also arrested Sunday. They both are being charged for attempting to illegally sell an American alligator.

"There's a way to do it, and that is not the way to do it. That's why they call it poaching," said Chronis.

Sparks faces up to five years in prison for the crime.

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