UPDATE: 7/27/2011 5:57 p.m.
The owner of a roughly five foot long reptile that was recently caught in Parkersburg did not violate any city laws because there is not a codified ordinance dealing with these types of pets.
According to officials, there are currently no regulations on owning exotic pets in the city of Parkersburg, West Virginia, or Ohio.
In Marietta there is a codified ordinance prohibitting residents from owning or bringing to public areas certain wild and exotic animals such as caimans, alligators and crocodiles that are 72 inches long or longer.
Violating this law is a minor misdemeanor and the nuisance subject is then abated.
Washington County Commissioner Steve Weber said "We had a dog call the other day and they were looking for their four and a half foot long ball python they couldn't find and they finally found it in a closet curled up around a post but this is the type of thing that can get out and really cause some problems. Children don't realize what they're getting into a lot of times."
In January, former Governor Ted Strickland issued an emergency executive order to ban the private ownership of dangerous wild animals but that order expired in April.
A work group of stakeholders including ODNR is meeting to come up with a regulatory framework plan to present to the legislature.
Update 7/26/2011 11:11a.m.
The investigation into the escaped Japanese Caiman is ongoing, one day after the reptile was safely captured and taken to the Humane Society of Parkersburg.
Officials with the Division of Natural Resources say the reptile's owner is not in violation of any city law and will, most likely, not face any charges.
Authorities say they are working with the United States Wildlife Services to confirm that the animal is not on an endangered species list.
The caiman has been returned to his owner
Updated 7/25/11 @ 5:54 pm
The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources tells WTAP-TV the reptile captured Monday in the 1000 block of Quincy Street in Parkersburg is a "Japanese Caiman," which is similar to an alligator.
Updated 7/25/11 @ 12:05 pm
It was a wild morning for the Department of Natural Resources, Parkersburg Fire Department and Humane Society as each agency rolled out to help capture an escaped alligator.
Humane Society authorities say a call came in on Saturday reporting an escaped gator. However, before they could gather information, the caller hung up.
Monday morning the gator was spotted on Quincy Street and area agencies worked together for a safe capture of the animal.
Maryann Hollis, Executive Director of the Humane Society of Parkersburg, says the alligator is roughly five feet long and could very easily cause substantial bodily harm to humans. She says it took six fully grown men to wrangle in the gator and adds that owning a gator may be legal but she very strongly discourages it.
"Obviously, it creates a dangerous situation. This alligator got out. It's big enough to injure or kill a small child, that's how big this gator is," Hollis says. "It could easily kill a cat, it could kill a big dog. It's not a small gator. So, it creates a very dangerous situation for anyone who comes in contact with it."
The owner of the alligator has been located and there is no word on whether or not they will face charges.
Authorities have caught an alligator, believed to be at least four feet long, in the 1000 block of Quincy Street in Parkersburg.
Reports of the loose alligator came in around 9:00 am Monday morning.
It was captured around 9:45 am.
We'll have more information on WTAP News at Noon and here on WTAP.com.
Photo by: Dylan Reeder