Police in the Everglades region of Florida were horrified to discover a dead body being eaten by two alligators.
The Sun Sentinel reports that a pair of fisherman called police after spotting the body in a canal just west of U.S. route 27 in the town of Southwest Ranches in Western Broward County, Florida.
Police Captain Dale Engle said officers from the Davie Police Department, which patrols Southwest Ranches, arrived at the scene and attempted to scare off the alligators, to no avail. The vicious creatures lingered nearby as police attempted to recover the body.
Police then called in a dive team to recover the remains, as well as an alligator trapper from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They stood with AR-15 rifles trained on the alligators in case they made any attempt to approach the scene. The officers did not discharge their weapons.
Carol Lyn Parrish, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said that the body recovered was male, but that little else was known about the individual, including his identity and cause of death.
"We want to identify who the victim is and possibly figure out what happened to them and how did they end up here," Sgt. Pablo Castaneda of the Davie Police said. "Could it be homicide? Could it be suicide? Could it have involved a fisherman? We don't know," he added.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's website, alligators are direct descendants of dinosaurs that first appeared on earth more than 200 million years ago. They can grow to be 14 feet long and weigh more than 1,000 pounds. They will eat virtually anything -- including fish, birds, turtles, dogs, snakes, humans, and even other alligators -- by ripping apart and swallowing their prey whole; alligators cannot chew their food.
Alligators also play an important role in the ecology of Florida's wetlands by creating large gator holes that support fish and wildlife during times of drought. Therefore, they are a protected species.
Amy Moore, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said that it was too soon to tell if the alligators had killed the individual or were scavenging on the body's remains.
"If we determine that an alligator was the cause," she said, "then we'll go back and recover it."