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There are no alligators in Tennessee’s sewers addicted to meth, contrary to what news outlets around the world were reporting last week.
Police in the small town of Loretto are trying to squelch the idea, after realizing the department’s attempt at humor on Facebook backfired into an international sensation. The town is about 100 miles southwest of Nashville, near the Alabama border.
It started on July 13, when Loretto police posted a warning that people flushing illegal drugs down their toilets were risking the creation of “meth-alligators” in creeks and the Tennessee River. It added that “methed up animals” had been found recently across the state line in north Alabama.
“Let us be perfectly clear: the meth gator was a humorous illustration used to highlight the dangers of flushing drugs and other substances down your toilet,” said the July 19 clarification. “Alas, the meth-gator is not real. Let’s say that again: THE METH GATOR IS NOT (at this time) REAL.”
The department says it decided to set the record straight after watching stories pop up across the world with headlines like: “Police warning against rise of meth gators” and “Beware of Meth-Gators!!!”
Those stories ranged from matter-of-fact reporting to over-achieving science websites that tried to prove whether or not it’s possible to have meth addicted alligators in creeks. “I think it’s a ridiculous notion,” alligator expert Kent Vliett old NBC News.
Police in Loretto, a town of about 1,700, say they are surprised at how it all went.
“Its reach has literally been worldwide with stories being posted/printed all over the U.S., England, China, Australia, Russia, and New Zealand,” said the department on Facebook.
“Chief has had interviews with NBC, the BBC, Fox News, Inside Edition, and a host of local and regional television and radio stations. This is simply amazing. He has also fielded a few calls from professionals fearing we actually had a meth influenced gator in our custody.”