FREMONT (CBS SF) — State Department of Fish and Wildlife officers shot and killed an American alligator near Alameda Creek in the Fremont area Tuesday morning, a department spokesman said.

The animal was spotted near the creek at about 11 a.m. but officers were unable to reach it. Rather than let it get away, potentially putting people in danger, Fish and Wildlife spokesman Steve Gonzalez said officers decided to kill it.

“We never want to shoot an animal like this, but under the circumstance it was the right choice,” Gonzalez said.

Authorities did not immediately know if it was an alligator or a similar animal, such as a crocodile or caiman, but later confirmed it was an American alligator.

The approximately 4-foot reptile was first reported on Monday. Fremont police Animal Services and state wildlife officials searched the creek during the remaining daylight hours, but couldn’t find it, police said.

The search of the waterway resumed Tuesday with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office taking over.

People who live by the creek where the alligator was hanging out said it is a popular swimming hole.

“A gator!? Woah! That’s a little scary,” said Fremont resident Brandon Wilkerson. “I’ve been in these waters. That’s a little wild!”

Fremont resident Gaby Torres and her little brothers were hiking along the creek Tuesday when they heard a gunshot and decided to get out of the area.

“As we were walking back up we seen police and a guy in a green uniform and a gun and told us to leave the property, said Torres.

It was right around when Fish and Wildlife officers found the alligator. According to the officers, they had no choice but to euthanize it.

“He was shot in the head so he died immediately,” said Captain Sheree Christensen with the State Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We never want to have to shoot something, but when it comes to public safety our hands are tied.”

Fish and Wildlife said the young alligator was likely someone’s illegal pet that became too much to maintain in a home.

While one neighbor CBS SF spoke with insisted he had seen the alligator as far back as six months ago, officials said there was no way to be certain when the alligator was first released into the wild.

TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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