Image: Officer Martin Jordon stands holding a 6-foot-long alligator
AP
Officer Martin Jordon stands holding a 6-foot-long alligator outside the Pathway Community Church in Blackman-Leoni Township, Mich., in this Monday photo provided by Blackman-Leoni Department of Public Safety.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 11/8/2011 11:34:05 AM ET 2011-11-08T16:34:05

Police caught a 6-foot-long alligator that was spotted roaming the property of a southern Michigan church, according to a report late Monday.

A motorist driving past the Pathway Community Church near Jackson Monday morning saw the reptile Monday and called the police after stopping to investigate.

The Jackson Citizen Patriot reported that officers slipped a noose around its head and secured its mouth with duct tape.

Police said the alligator was in good health and would be sent to a sanctuary.

Jim Riley, a pastor at another church, saw the animal while driving with his two daughters, Emma, 9, and Allison, 7, and turned the car around to investigate, the Citizen Patriot reported.

'Come on, dad'
"My girls said, 'Hey, what are you doing?' And I said, 'I think I just saw an alligator,' and they said, 'Come on dad,'" Riley told the paper.

Emma told the paper she had struggled to believe her father and expected her friends would too "because we never see them (alligators) in Michigan."

The Rileys got out the car and the pastor threw some small stones at the creature while checking it was actually real, the paper said.

Emma stayed about 25 feet away and was not scared, and neither was her younger sister, according to the report.

Riley told Citizen Patriot that the 911 dispatcher also sounded skeptical.

Blackman-Leoni Township public safety department Deputy Director Jon Johnston said the alligator was probably only recently released into the wild.

Johnston said the animal would not have been able to survive the harsh temperatures of the approaching Michigan winter.

Story: Ohio escape renews call for exotic-animal crackdown

The case comes after the release of more than 50 exotic animals in Zanesville, Ohio — by a man who then appears to have taken his own life — raised questions about legal restrictions on the ownership of dangerous creatures.

Bengal tigers, wolves, bears and other creatures escaped from Terry Thompson's farm; sheriff's deputies shot dead 49 animals and a monkey was believed to have been eaten by a big cat.

There were just six survivors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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