Helen Zumbaum says she was taking a trip to her mailbox Friday in the community of Nowthen when she spotted a something "kind of bumpy" in the grass about 20 feet away. Turns out it was an alligator, 3 to 4 feet in length.
“It was just sitting there like somebody had dropped it off. … I couldn’t believe it," Zumbaum tells the Pioneer Press.
The alligator, she says, made a dash for a nearby pond while she made a call to the Anoka County Sheriff's Office.
The officer was reportedly ordered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource to kill the alligator since it was an invasive species. Zumbaum tells the Pioneer Press that she was saddened by the turn of events, because it "wasn't the animal's fault for being there."
Where the reptile came from is still unclear to authorities. According to sheriff's office, the owner of a nearby petting zoo denied the gator belonged to him.
The blog Rainforest Adventures says that while alligators live on the Mississippi River, they're unlikely to venture north of about Memphis. Still, the Pioneer Press says at least three alligators were spotted last year in Washington County.
When alligators are found in Minnesota, it's generally because they are pets that grow too large and are released into the wild by their owners, the DNR says.
About a year earlier, a 2 1/2-foot alligator approached a dog along a walking path in Bloomington, FOX 9 reported. After the creature was captured, a local herpetological society planned to adopt it out.