"Meth-gators". It might sound like a B monster movie from the creators of Birdemic (2010) and Sharktopus vs Whalewolf (2015) but it is actually a warning issued by a Tennessee police department.
"On a more or less serious note, folks… please don’t flush your drugs, m’kay," read the (now unavailable) post published on the Loretto Police Department Facebook page.
"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. Furthermore, if it made it far enough we could create meth-gators in Shoal Creek and the Tennessee River down in North Alabama."
The post was published after police found a man (unsuccessfully) attempting to flush methamphetamine and various drug paraphernalia down the can. The man was promptly arrested and charged with drug possession with intent for resale, as well as possession of drug paraphernalia and tampering with evidence, AL.com reports. However, the local police department saw the incident as an opportunity to deliver a handy reminder not to dispose of your drugs via a toilet in a fun, tongue-in-cheek kind of way.
Should Tennessee residents be worried about bumping into a methed-up alligator? Probably not. Unless the entire city of Loretto decided to get together and flood the sewage system with meth, drug levels in the state's waters aren't going to be that high.
As Kent Vliet, an alligator biologist with 40 years’ experience, told NBC News, he’s never heard of a gator on meth.
"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.
That’s not to say flushing drugs (of any kind) is a particularly good idea. Studies have found that drug pollution is getting European eels high on cocaine (causing hyperactivity and muscle damage), while English shrimp are failing drug tests thanks to significant levels of cocaine, ketamine, Valium, Xanax, tramadol, and other pharmaceuticals in their habitat. In 2018, Australian scientists found traces of 69 of the 98 drugs tested (including painkillers, antidepressants, and Parkinson's medication) in Melbourne insect larvae – highlighting the need to improve water treatment techniques.
Researchers, in a study published last year, were even able to analyze the contents of sewer water to expose the illicit drug habits of 56 European cities. The results: Barcelona is Europe's cocaine capital, Amsterdam sees the highest level of MDMA use, while Germans are Europe's most committed consumers of amphetamine. Meth use was relatively low but the highest in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
As for meth-gators, that's probably best left to the imagination of wannabe auteurs.