The gator, the trappers and the neighbors: 10.5-foot gator wrangled in St. Pete

St. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Nolan Sadorf's neighbor saw the gator out in the lake before he went in the water to work on his dock.

His neighbor saw it and he saw that it was good -- way out in the lake.

Then suddenly, the gator was 5 feet away, looking right at him.

His neighbor shot out of the water, and lucky for him, the gator didn't care to chase as his legs thrust up and out of the dark water of the lake.

Sadorf didn't know all that when he walked out of his house on Bay Lake Drive in St. Petersburg on Saturday.

"Neighbor said they got a gator back there they're trying to catch," he recalled with laugh by phone after leaving his seat at the Tampa Bay Rays game he later went to after helping wrestle the gator.

Like a normal Florida 22-year-old, Sadorf saw his chance to wrestle him a gator. He walked between the houses on Bay Lake Drive and down to the lake that has had some gators before, but never anything that he would see.

"Maybe he came in during the storm the other day," Sadorf speculated of the flood waters that Tropical Storm Andrea brought Thursday and Friday. "It's not a real big lake -- 150 yards long and 100 yards wide, maybe."

When he made it to the lake, he found two Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission trappers, who he said originally thought was a 5- or 6-foot gator, but gators are certainly good at hiding the size of their bodies -- usually only their heads are seen above water.

The trappers had managed to get the gator lassoed by the neck and were trying to get it over a seawall and out of the lake. "They got it up against the seawall and it just started taking off," he said.

Like a normal Florida 22-year-old, he grabbed a rope that was wrapped onto the reptile and help hold him along the wall.

Sadorf the neighbor wasn't alone, and soon, more neighbors heard of the ruckus going on off Bay Lake Drive and decided to join in the wrangling -- including Sadorf's father and his brother-in-law, Anthony Mendillo.

They found out about the incident through text messages and pictures of the gator that Sadorf, like a normal Florida 22-year-old, was taking and sending to him during the wrangling.

Sometimes the gator would be calm. Sometimes the gator would take chances and thrash around to make a break for it.

"He was heavy. He was massive."

The powerful jaws of the gator bit through a PVC pipe and wooden broom stick the group was using to get the animal under control.

The group finally was able to fit more ropes around his legs and feet and the trappers used a wench to drag the gator up the lawn to be put into the bed of a truck for transport away from the neighborhood.

The gator wound up being roughly 10-feet, 5 inches, according to Sadorf, with an undetermined weight.

Big though.

Gators are wrangled in Florida all the time. Usually they are put down, but according to Sadorf, the FWC trappers said they had a permit to take the gator and try to sell it to "some type of zoo" in Lakeland.

Perhaps they can build a habitat where the Tampa Bay Mystery Monkey and Sadorf's gator can live and plan their escapes together.

Perhaps not.

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