Environmental police recover lizard in illegal sale at mall

  • In this photo taken Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 a juvenile Nile monitor is tended to at the FreeMe Center for the rehabilitation of indigenous wildlife in the north of Johannesburg. The reptile was bought to the center with a tail injury after being found on a construction site. The lizard has since being released into the wild. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell) Denis Farrell—AP

Thursday, October 26, 2017

HOLYOKE (AP) — Massachusetts Environmental Police say an undercover sting operation has nabbed a person who tried to sell an indigenous lizard on social media.

Police said Wednesday that the individual tried to sell the three-foot-long lizard on a Facebook group page. An undercover officer contacted the seller and arranged a meeting Tuesday at the Holyoke Mall.

Officers recovered the Nile Monitor Lizard and charged the person with possession of wildlife without a permit. The animal was taken to a permitted facility that’s licensed to care for reptiles.

Police say the Nile Monitor Lizard is indigenous to Africa, but can be found in certain parts of the U.S. The reptile can exceed seven feet in length.

It is illegal to possess the lizards in Massachusetts without a permit.