Humboldt Park alligator search closes roads, paths around lagoon

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Authorities are now keeping people away from the area around the Humboldt Park Lagoon, all part of the effort to catch the elusive alligator.

The eastern half of Humboldt Park is now closed. All walking paths, driveways and parking lots on the east side of the park now closed until further notice and ordered by Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Monday, officers turned away park goers and stopped all through traffic on the east side of Humboldt Park and city crews put up miles of fencing to keep people out.

"We just had to walk around the whole park just so they could catch the alligator," said walker Myeisha Green. "They've been trying to catch him all week. It's just ridiculous."

Green and her son are keeping their fingers crossed that a new trapper will catch the non-native creature that's been lurking in the lagoon for at least a week, likely illegally dumped by its owner. The city called in some "gator aid" from Florida, hiring Frank Robb, who's already deep in the hunt for the five footer, now nicknamed "Chance the Snapper."

"It's been a good conversation piece, but I really hope they are able to deal with it in a humane manner and the alligator gets to stay alive and live a happy life," said biker Blake Rhein.

Chicago Animal Care and Control said it's likely that residents who have been watching from the lagoon banks have been influencing the animal's behavior, possibly making it harder to catch.

"The City of Chicago is taking the necessary steps to safely and humanely capture the alligator, which means keeping the lagoon and surrounding areas as calm and quiet as possible," said Kelley Gandurski, Executive Director of Chicago Animal Care and Control. "It is likely that residents who have been watching from the lagoon banks and paths in the park have been influencing the animal's behavior. We are taking these steps to in an attempt to create an environment that lends to the animal's safe capture so we can quickly re-open the entire park to activity."

The city said the trapper came highly recommended by experts in Florida. He plans to humanely trap the gator, but told police he needs silence around the park.

"My hope is that the alligator is okay and can get trapped soon so that he doesn't start wreaking havoc in the park and that families can return to play in the park," said runner Linda Becker.

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A Chicago police official provided an update Monday on area closures and a newly hired trapper in the search for an elusive alligator in Humboldt Park.

The boathouse parking lot, all pedestrian paths within the park and bounded by Humboldt Park Drive, Division Street, California Avenue and North Avenue are closed until further notice. All access to North Luis Munoz Marin Drive east of North Humboldt Park Drive is also closed.

Meanwhile, the west half of the park remains open.

It is a misdemeanor to have a pet alligator in the state of Illinois, and it is also illegal to release a pet into a public park.

Kelley Gandurski, executive director of Chicago Animal Care and Control, said she appreciates Chicagoans' concerns for the welfare of the gator. She hopes to see the same interest in cats and dogs at CACC.

"Chicago's homeless animals that will make good pets need you too," she said.

A Chicago police investigation into who released the alligator is ongoing.

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Reptile expert Jim Nesci spoke with ABC7 from his home in southwest suburban Mokena with his friend Bubba.

Reptile expert Jim Nesci spoke with ABC7 from his home in southwest suburban Mokena with his friend Bubba. Nesci is the owner of Cold Blooded Creatures and for more information, visit
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