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Bergen County Creek Once Had Its Own Alligator Fish

Schenectady's Julian Canavan holds the Alligator Gar he caught before returning it to mother nature — even though it's domesticated.
Schenectady's Julian Canavan holds the Alligator Gar he caught before returning it to mother nature — even though it's domesticated. Photo Credit: Julian Canavan
A southern fisherman holds an Alligator Gar.
A southern fisherman holds an Alligator Gar. Photo Credit: Instagram

RIDGEFIELD PARK, N.J. — An alligator fish that two Schenectady, N.Y. men recently reeled in was once found in Ridgefield Park's Overpeck Creek.

Naturalists conducting a fish study in June 2002 discovered the gar on the border of Ridgefield and Ridgefield Park, Brian Aberback, the public information officer for the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, told Daily Voice Monday.

"The alligator gar captured could have been a pet that was released into the water," Aberback told Daily Voice. "It is doubtful that it would have migrated to this area, and we would not expect to see any in the future."

That's exactly what happened when 20-year-old Julian Canavan of Schenectady reeled in a 32- incher last month, The New York Times reports. A month later, another man from Schenectady pulled in the exact same fish for a $100 bounty , Canavan told Daily Voice.

"I was working last Friday and as we were closing down the pool I guess he caught the fish on a crayfish," Canavan said.

"Impressive and not my bait of choice but nonetheless he got the fish and has received his hundred-dollar reward."

Agents from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation said they suspect it was an aquarium pet that someone dumped in the lake, the story says.

Hackensack Riverkeeper captain Bill Sheehan can only hope no more alligator gars are dumped.

"Strange things happen with wildlife," Sheehan said. "People move [animals] around thinking it’s a good thing and then illegally deposit them on local waterways.

"And then people scratch their heads and say, 'What's that doing here?' '" he said

CLICK HERE for The New York Times' story.

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