Couple accused of poaching gator, trying to sell tail

Poachers steal gator's tail from licensed trapper, try to sell it

LAKELAND, FLA. - Robb Upthegrove makes a living trapping nuisance gators for the FWC.

“My family's been in the gator business for 80 years,” he explained.

In that time, he's dealt with his fair share of poachers. He said usually they take the entire gator, so he was surprised when he found a gator on a trap he set up on Lake Parker stabbed in the head several times with its tail missing.

Shaun Sparks is accused of killing the gator. Investigators said he and his wife, Christy Vincent, tried to sell the tail door-to-door in their neighborhood.

“It's very strange and very odd, and it's also a felony,” one neighbor said.

The couple didn't have any luck. Investigators found the three foot tail in their house, and the couple appeared in court Monday.

Upthegrove didn’t make any money off the gator, but he is glad the suspected poachers won’t be able to do it again any time soon.

He also explained why it's important to leave catching gators to the pros. Not only is it dangerous, but alligators are also a federally protected species that's important to our ecosystem. He encouraged people to learn more about protected species at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's website.

Sparks’ bond is set at $1,000. If he's convicted, Sparks could spend up to five years in prison. Vincent faces a lesser charge, and her bond is set at $500.

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