A Tennessee police department has published a warning on social media to its residents: "Folks…please don't flush your drugs m'kay," such as methamphetamine -- because this could trigger aggressive "meth-gators."
The warning was published on Facebook, with a post-dated July 13, by the Loretto Police Department who described how officers executed a search warrant on a home and found the occupant attempting to flush a big bag of meth down his toilet. Although the suspect was unsuccessful at disposing of the drugs - the police department felt compelled enough to remind residents on Facebook that flushing drugs down the drain can have environmental impacts, like "meth-gators."
"Folks…please don't flush your drugs m'kay. When you send something down the sewer pipe it ends up in our retention ponds for processing before it is sent down stream. Now our sewer guys take great pride in releasing water that is cleaner than what is in the creek, but they are not really prepared for meth. Ducks, Geese, and other fowl frequent our treatment ponds and we shudder to think what one all hyped up on meth would do," the statement read.
The post explained how meth traveling in the municipality's sewer system could find its way into Shoal Creek, down the Tennessee River in North Alabama and into the bodies of alligators.
In an edit to the post, the police department adds: "We feel the need to mention that "drugs" also includes prescription pills. These medications can be disposed of at City Hall in a designated disposal container in the lobby." Outlining the gators could also ingest prescription opioids if flushed down the drain.
Kent Vliet, an alligator biologist and the coordinator of laboratories in the department of biology at the University of Florida, told NBC News that he has never once heard of an alligator on meth.
"I've worked with alligators for 40 years, and I generally can answer any question someone gives me about them. This one's throwing me for a loop," Vliet said.
"I would guess they might be affected by it, but they tend to not react to drugs in the same way we do, and I don't know if it would take a little or a lot to get an alligator to do something on meth," he said. "I think it's a ridiculous notion. If you flush meth it's going to be diluted."
Tennessee's problem with "meth-gators" could be a significant issue for other states' ecosystems who have also been hit hard by a three-decades-long drug crisis that includes opioids, meth, and cocaine.
It's rarely reported how America's drug epidemic is affecting nature until now.