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By The Associated Press

MIAMI — Florida officials have put out the word that an urban alligator who has been eating dogs and other pets and terrorizing a neighborhood is now wanted, dead or alive.

Gary Morse of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told AFP the state agency has taken the unusual step of authorizing an alligator hunter to shoot and kill the three-meter (10-foot) long animal.

But finding this alligator, on the loose for two years in the St. Petersburg area and stalking pets around the city’s canals, may not be easy, Morse said.

“Alligators regularly use the drainage system to travel. When you are trying to target a specific gator is really difficult to catch it,” Morse said.

Tensions mounted on Monday night, when residents reported that the alligator ate a mixed breed dog who was running free near the canal. Then, the alligator was reportedly glimpsed the next morning near Tony’s Meat Market.

But when Charles Carpenter, the alligator hunter, arrived on the scene, the culprit was nowhere to be seen.

Morse said some people have been reportedly feeding the renegade gator, making his capture even more complicated, because he is eluding bait traps.

“He’s not hungry and he’s got a lot of places to hide.”

Carpenter told the St. Petersburg Times he plans to use a hunting rifle or semi-automatic pistol to take down his prey.

“He’s good at not getting caught,” Carpenter said.