It's been a wild August in Washington County.

On Thursday, a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources employee shot and killed an alligator in Goose Lake in Scandia.

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The Washington County Sheriff's Office had earlier warned that two alligators were in the lake, and two boys out fishing had spotted a small alligator going after their bait.

The shooting came about a week after a 5-foot boa constrictor was found on the deck of a Stillwater home. The snake was later removed to safety by a local herpetological society.

A local man has claimed the alligators were his and that they'd been stolen and released near the lake, sheriff's Cmdr. Jerry Cusick said.

Reptile experts generally discourage keeping alligators as pets, especially in Minnesota, where the cold weather doesn't suit them.

In some areas, including Scandia, exotic animals are banned.

The city recently sent a letter to the alligators' owners alerting them to city code, city administrator Kristina Handt said Thursday. The city attorney is reviewing the case to determine possible next steps.

Cusick, who heads the water, parks and trails division, said a CodeRed alert was sent out to nearby residents alerting them that the alligators were on the loose, but said there's little more his staff can do.

"We're not reptile catchers here," Cusick said. "If it was an imminent public safety threat, then by all means we'd be out there. But the report is that they're small, so they shouldn't be any threat to people."

The alligators are about 40 inches long, Cusick said.

The DNR and the reptiles' owners have been searching the area.

"We all know they're not going to survive the winter," Cusick said of the alligators. "If they can't find them, the weather will take care of them."

There were similar concerns when a 4 1/2-foot alligator escaped from a Woodbury yard in July 2011. The owner was cited by police for harboring a prohibited animal and was forced to find the creature a new home after it was captured. The alligator, known as Roger, went to a petting zoo in Scandia, which is not connected to this week's alligator escape.

Exotic animals are not uncommon pets, and it's not uncommon for them to find themselves released to Minnesota's wild.

The Minnesota Herpetological Society takes in and adopts out 200 to 300 unwanted or lost animals each year, Sarah Richard, adoption chairwoman for the Minnesota Herpetological Society, said recently. About 25 percent of those are found strays.

She cautioned against buying alligators as pets without seriously considering what a huge commitment they are and that they cannot survive Minnesota's winter.

"It's probably inadvisable for people to buy them without thinking about what they're going to do with them when they outgrow the 50-gallon aquarium," Richard said.

Even so, she said she thought shooting the alligator Thursday was overkill.

"They cease to be an issue in October. We were talking about how to catch it. You're talking about a 2-foot alligator who couldn't hurt anybody. To go out and shoot it..." Richard said, trailing off. "It's unnecessary. It's not a public menace. There's no reason to go out and shoot them."

Richard said in 2011 that she brokers three or four alligator adoptions each year.