Alligator Killed, Gonzales Duo Arrested

POSTED: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 - 8:00pm

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:57pm

Folks in Ascension Parish are outraged after a well-known alligator is found dead. Two people are locked up accused of mutilating the animal. Agents with Wildlife and Fisheries say they got a tip that led them straight to a duo that shot and killed an alligator known as Hercules and folks who live near the Cypress flats outside of Dutchtown say they’re shocked.

You might be surprised to know there’s thousands of acres of swamp just ten minute east of Baton Rouge. Folks who live and work out there call the area “Cypress Flats” and spent the last fifteen years trying to increase the alligator population. Frank Bonifay of Alligator Bayou says, “And we just now coming from a low to a low-medium level here in the basin.”

But Wildlife and Fisheries agents say 26-year-old Brain Berteau and his girlfriend 27-year-old Tanya Garza have destroyed part of the Flats by killing Hercules. They say the alligator was between 40 and 60 years old. They say Berteau shot the gator with an AK-47 assault rifle and later came back and cut off his tail.

Agents say they found more than 50 pounds of gator meet and gator skin at Garza’s house. Sgt. Todd Lewis explains, “They’re looking at paying something over $5,000 in fines plus restitution for the value of the alligator.” Agents tracked down Berteau and Garza with the help from a tipster.

Even though agents say they’ve caught the people responsible for killing Hercules, the people who’ve worked to grow the alligator population worry the damage will have a negative impact for years. People who live nearby say they hope Berteau and Garza will serve as an example to others. Agents and property owners say they’ll continue to work to keep poachers out of the Cypress Flats and preserve the area for years to come.

If you’ve seen illegal hunting activity you can call the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries anonymously at 1-800-442-2511.