Some Elk Grove residents say they have spotted an alligator or caiman-like reptile, 3 to 4 feet long, surfacing at a neighborhood lake on multiple occasions the past few days, social media posts and local news outlets are reporting.
A photo posted Thursday morning to Facebook by Elk Grove resident Karen Keeslar appears to show an alligator with half his head poking out of the water. Keeslar says in her public Facebook post that the photo was taken at Camden Lake, a small suburban lake near Highway 99 off of Bond Road.
The animal's presence was also reported to Elk Grove Laguna News by Sharon Anderson, president of Camden's neighborhood association, on Thursday. Anderson and Keeslar both say they've seen the gator on multiple occasions, and Anderson says other people have also seen it.
Camden Lake was cordoned off by fish and wildlife officials Friday afternoon, according to CBS 13. However, FOX 40 reported Friday that some people in Elk Grove are ignoring warnings in hopes of seeing the gator. Both stations have reported that multiple residents have seen the alligator at least once, sometimes on land near the lake.
Community members have called on animal control for help, and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have conducted search efforts since Friday. Efforts to locate and trap the animal have apparently been unsuccessful as of Saturday night.
Alligators are not native to California and are illegal for the general public to own in the state, leading Anderson to speculate that it must have been an illegally owned pet released into the lake by its owner.
Keeslar's account of the events on social media continued Saturday afternoon, when she claimed that fish and wildlife trappers rigged a camera to photograph the gator. Vandals proceeded to steal the camera, which had been chained to a tree, Keeslar wrote.
Social media users responded to Keeslar's photo — still the only image that has surfaced of the beast — in a not-so-serious tone. Many cracked jokes or reacted with lighthearted meme images, though a few expressed concern and stressed the importance of keeping kids and pets away from a possible alligator.
A few others were skeptical, some pointing out Keeslar's photo's uncanny similarity to the infamous shot of the Loch Ness Monster.