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Facebook photo prompts alligator warning in Stirling, Ont.

An eastern Ontario police chief is warning area residents to be cautious when dipping their toes in a local creek.

Police in Stirling-Rawdon, northwest of Belleville, have released a photo of what appears to be a small alligator in the mill pond in Stirling.

The blurry photo was taken Friday and posted on Facebook.

Chief Brian Foley says the public should use caution around the pond and eastward up Rawdon Creek until the animal is removed or the photo proven false.

The Ministry of Natural Resources is investigating.

Anyone spotting the reptile is urged to call Stirling-Rawdon police or the provincial ministry.

“It’s something you take seriously,” Foley said Monday.

“You have a bit of a laugh at it at first,” he said. “You go, ‘Well there’s no way there’s an alligator in the mill pond after the winter we had,’ and then you think maybe somebody did dump one.”

Foley said the place where the animal has been spotted is in a well-populated area.

“We’re just trying to tell people to keep your kids and small pets away from there,” he said.

“It might just decide to take a bite if it’s hungry.”