CHICAGO — A Chicago man was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor after trying to sell a baby alligator on Craigslist, authorities said.
Officers at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources spotted the ad and arrested the man Monday, according to Conservation Officer Tim Buhnerkempe.
"We contacted the individual who posted the ad and basically just conducted an undercover operation to go down and purchase it from that individual," Buhnerkempe said.
When the man tried to sell it to the officers, he was arrested and charged with a Class A misdemeanor, Buhnerkempe said.
Buhnerkempe declined to name the man or give the location of his arrest, but he said selling an alligator violates state and federal law.
Buhnerkempe also said it is not the first time he has seen someone try to sell an alligator.
"I may go a year without hearing any of these. I may hear a couple of them in a week," he said. "So I wouldn't say that it's an uncommon thing, but it's definitely also not something [that happens every day.]"
He said the alligator was just a baby — probably no more than 3 months old.
"It's not really safe for someone to be housing a large alligator," Buhnerkempe said. "Ten years down the road, it's not going to be 6 to 8 inches long. It's going to be several feet."
The baby reptile was an American alligator, which can grow to be 6 to 14 feet long, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The American alligator officially is listed as threatened on the federal endangered species list due to its resemblance to rarer crocodilian species.
Buhnerkempe said that's another reason selling American alligators is illegal: People are not adept at distinguishing different species and may confuse the alligators with rarer species.
Buhnerkempe declined to comment on whether the man trying to sell the alligator knew it was illegal to do so, but he said the man will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.