WAUKEGAN -- Officials with the City of Waukegan, Illinois on Monday, Oct. 8 announced a four-foot alligator was found in Lake Michigan -- discovered by a kayaker!
They posted a photo of the gator on Facebook, and said "it's not every day someone reports an alligator in Lake Michigan -- and the report is true."
"Too warm! Been a warm summer. The alligators..." said Chris Fischbach, with a laugh as he fished in Waukegan Harbor Monday.
Police took a call, which was followed up with video of the alligator slowly swimming in the lake.
"I've been to Florida, down Alligator Alley, and there are big ones down there -- but I'd never believe it in Illinois unless I seen it," said Fischbach.
"An alligator?! I still don't believe it. I mean, we're talking about Lake Michigan. That never happens. We gotta get to the bottom of this! Like, where'd that come from? How?" said Donte Fain.
We're told it was found by a kayaker at the Waukegan Harbor. The kayaker was a couple hundred yards from shore when he thought he saw a dead salmon. He got closer and realized it was an alligator. He called 911 -- and ended up using his paddle to snag something on the gator and brought it to shore.
"The fact that he was able to snare the alligator probably saved its life," said Rob Carmichael with the Wildlife Discovery Center.
The gator wouldn't have survived long because a rubber band kept its jaw shut and the water would have been too cold.
"It would either starve to death or succumb to the cold temperatures coming in -- especially being on the thinner side -- it probably would not have survived much longer," said Carmichael.
Wildlife Discovery Center officials said the gator is between the ages of 3 and 5, and it could grow to 13 feet. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials are investigating to see whose it was, if the person may have had a permit and whether it escaped or was, deliberately let go.
"Once we get him into optimal conditions with the right amount of light and heat and warm water, you may see a much different personality come out," said Carmichael.
It's unclear at this point how long the gator was in the water.
The Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest is housing the alligator for now as a temporary solution.