Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers responded to a report of the alligator found near State Road 62 in Manatee County. The alligator had significantly decomposed when it was found.
FWC officers are now investigating what happened to the alligator, FOX 13 News reported.
“We thought the worst,” Heather Morneau, who found the alligator’s body, told the outlet. “We thought that someone had chopped off its head. We were trying to figure out if someone would do that.”
Morneau also said it looked like there were bullet holes in the animal’s body, according to Newsweek.
FWC said that if someone killed the alligator without a license or took its head as a trophy, they could face criminal charges.
Florida allows a statewide harvest from Aug. 15 to Nov. 1 every year – as long as the hunter has a proper permit; otherwise, the hunter faces a third-degree felony charge, WFLA reported.
Another possible charge would be the dumping of debris over 15 pounds, which is a first-degree misdemeanor, and possession of parts without a permit.
The FWC has asked anyone with information regarding the incident to contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.