MANHATTAN—The Riley County Police Department responded to reports of an alligator sighting along Wildcat Creek early Thursday morning. Animal Control Officers were notified and were able to locate a small alligator measuring 3-3.5 ft swimming in the creek. According to a press release from the police department, the owners of Reptile World were contacted, but claim the animal is not one of the alligators missing from their store, as the missing alligators were much larger in size.

Animal Control Officers contacted the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to determine a course of action for capturing the alligator safely, if needed.

The public is advised to use caution in the area. Linear Trail will remain open but no swimming, wading, or playing is allowed in Wildcat Creek at any time.

"Sometimes people illegally capture or buy alligators when they’re small, thinking they would make a good pet," said T. Russel Reitz Animal Shelter Director Deb Watkins. "This could be one of those cases. Anyone who owns an alligator is required to have a state license and large alligators require a pet store license."

Alligators are not native to Kansas and have no ability to survive winter temperatures here.

Caution signs are in place and the public is advised to remain on the trail if walking or biking in the area.

"Our Animal Control Officers do not have training to capture the animal safely, so we contacted the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism and spoke with the Game Warden," said Watkins "The game warden does not have any plans to pursue capture of the animal at this time because it does not pose a threat to the public."

More information will be released as it becomes available.