'Meth-gators': Tennessee police warn flushing drugs could create hyper-aggressive alligators
A police department in Loretto, Tennessee, is asking residents to refrain from flushing drugs, such as methamphetamine, down the toilet to prevent "meth-gators."
In the Facebook post, the Loretto Police Department wrote that on Saturday, officers executed a search warrant on a home and discovered the occupant trying to flush meth and drug paraphernalia down his toilet.
Although the suspect was unsuccessful, the officers used the incident to remind residents of the harm drugs can cause to the environment.
"Folks … please don’t flush your drugs m’kay ... our sewer guys take great pride in releasing water that is cleaner than what is in the creek, but they are not really prepared for meth," the post read. "Ducks, Geese, and other fowl frequent our treatment ponds and we shudder to think what one all hyped up on meth would do."
The post warns that meth could make its way into Shoal Creek, down the Tennessee River in North Alabama and into the bodies of alligators.
"Furthermore, if it made it far enough we could create meth-gators in Shoal Creek and the Tennessee River down in North Alabama," police wrote. "They’ve had enough methed up animals the past few weeks without our help. So, if you need to dispose of your drugs just give us a call and we will make sure they are disposed of in the proper way."
But Kent Vliet, an alligator biologist and the coordinator of laboratories in the department of biology at the University of Florida, said he has never once heard of an alligator on meth.
"I've worked with alligators for 40 years, and I generally can answer any question someone gives me about them. This one's throwing me for a loop," Vliet told NBC News.
Vliet, who is not a veterinarian, said in a study he participated in, in which gators were dosed with antibiotics, the animals had to be injected with the medication, rather than orally fed the drug, to see a sustained effect.
"I would guess they might be affected by it, but they tend to not react to drugs in the same way we do, and I don’t know if it would take a little or a lot to get an alligator to do something on meth," Vliet said. "I think it’s a ridiculous notion. If you flush meth its going to be diluted."
Vliet added that people who are not familiar with gators tend to over-exaggerate their dangers, adding that the reptile does not seek out humans to harm or eat.
The Facebook post's mention of "methed up animals" in Alabama may have been a reference to a caged "attack squirrel" who was believed to have been given methamphetamine to keep it aggressive.
The alleged methed-up "attack squirrel" was discovered during the execution of a search warrant on a suspect believed to possess controlled substances.
However, officials in the area said there was no safe way to test the squirrel for meth.