Gator Poacher Selling Tail Meat Door-to-Door Faces 5 Years In Jail
Bob McNally 07.25.17
Just when you think alligator stories coming out of Florida can’t get any more weird comes word that a couple from Lakeland has been arrested for killing a 7-foot alligator, then trying to sell the critter’s tail by going door-to-door.
Alligators are a federally-protected species with strict state and federal penalties for violation. Alligators are harvested by state licensed trappers, and in specially-permitted farms. Gators in such facilities are killed, with the hides and meat sold. Alligator tail is a prized part of the animal, savored by many for its taste and texture.
A man living near Lake Parker in Lakeland and called Florida wildlife officers requesting help with a pesky 7-foot gator. The state sent a licensed alligator trapper and discovered a dead 7-footer with its tail cut off and knive wounds in the head.
Trapper Robb Upthegrove believed someone gilled the big lizard for its prized tail meat, and that was confirmed to him when a witness reported that a man and woman had been going door-to-door in the neighborhood trying to sell fresh gator tail meat.
Officers arrested 33-year-old Shaun Sparks of Lakeland for intentionally killing an alligator, a third-degree felony. Sparks’ girlfriend, 27-year-old Christy Vincent of Lakeland, was also arrested. They both are being charged for attempting to illegally sell an alligator, with a potential five year prison term if found guilty.