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Wounded Kansas alligator, shot through the head, is a mystery

Updated: 2013-08-08T05:43:31Z

By MATT CAMPBELL

The Kansas City Star

Releasing a 3-foot alligator into a Kansas lake was bad enough.

Shooting it through the head was something else.

The Atchison County, Kan., Sheriff’s Department was preparing Monday to rescue an alligator from a creek feeding Atchison County Lake and turn it over to an animal sanctuary when it learned someone had shot the reptile clean through the snout.

That was a surprise to Dana Savorelli, who had agreed to take on the gator at his Monkey Island sanctuary in Greenwood, near Lee’s Summit. He hadn’t been told it was injured.

“Another inch back would have killed it,” Savorelli said Wednesday of the shot, adding that it looked as if a .22 blew through the nasal area. “You can hear it wheezing. But these things are next to dinosaur rough and tough and can usually bounce back from a thing like this.”

Savorelli plans to let nature take its course and will care for the alligator while trying to find a home for it in a more suitable climate.

Meanwhile, the Atchison County Sheriff’s Department said 53-year-old Dennis Statler of Horton, Kan., has been issued a summons to appear in court on a charge of animal cruelty for allegedly shooting the alligator.

Officials are still looking for the person who released the gator into the lake. That person could be charged with cruelty.

“People get these things and I guess they think they’re doing them a favor” by releasing them, Savorelli said. “But it’s a short life because our weather is going to kill it for sure.”

To reach Matt Campbell, call 816-234-4902 or send email to mcampbell@kcstar.com.

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