Florida deputy police officer Gene Smith thought the calls about a kangaroo on the loosewere part of a prank.
But WTSP reports that the story was true, a five-foot-tall, 200-pound kangaroo was hopping around U.S. highway 301 in Pasco County.
"Sure enough, there was a kangaroo in the middle of the road,” Smith told the station, noting that it was the strangest call he’d received during 17 years on the force. "It was a pretty big and extremely strong animal," Smith says. "It wasn't until I grabbed those legs that I realized just how strong they were. It doesn't look like that on TV."
In fact, the kangaroo was so strong that police weren’t having any luck catching it. They, along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Pasco County Sheriff's Office Agricultural Unit, tried a number of approaches to wrangle in the marsupial without seriously injuring it. Even tranquilizers were not slowing the creature down.
"We attempted to Taser the kangaroo," Smith said. "That had no effect."
Eventually, local resident Kevin Wehling, who said he has experience wrangling animals, assisted them.
"I bounced it off of a chain link fence and it went to the ground and I decided it wasn't going to get up," Wehling told the station. "I was mainly worried about its back legs, and then another deputy jumped on it from there, and it was just a big dog pile after that."
Kangaroos typically do not attack humans unless provoked. Although an Australian politician was recently knocked down and scratched during a confrontation with a kangaroo while the politician was out for a morning jog.
However, they can become more aggressive when hungry or thirsty. Or, in this case, when they find themselves in a strange environment with a team of police officers hunting them down.
"I believe [the kangaroo] was pretty drugged up. I don't think I would have dove on it if it would have been un-drugged," Wehling said about why he took the risk of jumping on the kangaroo. "Once you get on top of one of them, on the belly and all that, if you can control the legs, you'll be all right."
Police still have no idea who owns the kangaroo and have temporarily placed it in the care of a veterinarian who has experience handling them. Technically, you can own a kangaroo in the Sunshine State if you have the right permits. So, in theory, wildlife officials should be able to narrow the field and pinpoint where the stray kangaroo came from.