Kangaroo leads Florida police on wild goose chase

Eric Pfeiffer

Florida deputy Gene Smith thought the calls about a kangaroo on the loose were part of a prank.

But WTSP reports that the story was true: A five-foot-tall, 200-pound kangaroo was hopping around Pasco County on Sunday.

Then the call came that it was now on U.S. 301. Smith—who noted that the calls were the strangest he's received during 17 years on the force—said, "Sure enough, there was a kangaroo in the middle of the road. It was a pretty big and extremely strong animal. 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 police couldn't catch it. Along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Pasco County Sheriff's Office Agricultural Unit, they tried a number of approaches to wrangle in the marsupial without seriously injuring it. But not even tranquilizers could slow the creature down.

"We attempted to Taser the kangaroo," Smith said. "That had no effect."

Eventually, local resident Kevin Wehling, who WTSP said had "heard rumors about the kangaroo and wanted to see it for himself," captured the animal.

"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, who said he has experience wrangling animals, told the station.

He added, "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. However, an Australian politician was recently knocked down and scratched during a confrontation with a kangaroo while out for a morning jog.

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. Technically, you can own a kangaroo in the Sunshine State if you have the right permits. In theory, wildlife officials should be able to narrow the field and pinpoint where the stray kangaroo came from.