By Amy Gunia
Updated: July 22, 2019 1:50 PM ET | Originally published: July 16, 2019

After posting a warning on Facebook asking residents not to flush drugs down the toilet for fear of creating “meth gators” on July 13, a Tennessee police department has explained on Friday that the post was a joke. “Alas, the meth-gator is not real,” a new Facebook post says. “Let’s say that again: THE METH GATOR IS NOT (at this time) REAL.”

The Loretto Police department posted the warning on Facebook on July 13 after a man attempted to flush methamphetamine and related paraphernalia down the toilet as they searched a home in the town of about 2,000 people located 100 miles south of Nashville.

“Folks…please don’t flush your drugs m’kay… 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,” the statement reads.

Police said that flushed items end up in retention ponds, where wildlife often resides.

Read More: Why Deadly Alligator Attacks Like South Carolina Are a Growing Trend

“Ducks, Geese, and other fowl frequent our treatment ponds and we shudder to think what one all hyped up on meth would do,” it said.

Police warned that the substance could travel, and that there was a danger of creating “meth gators” in Shoal Creek and the Tennessee River as far as northern Alabama.

“They’ve had enough methed up animals the past few weeks without our help,” police said.

The police department urged residents to drop off any drugs needing disposal at a designated disposal counter at city hall.

But on Friday, the department again posted explaining, “Let us be perfectly clear: the meth gator was a humorous illustration used to highlight the dangers of flushing drugs and other substances down your toilet.” After receiving numerous media enquiries from news sources around the world— including China, Australia, England, and New Zealand— the police department realized that their joke had been taken a little too seriously.

 

Write to Amy Gunia at amy.gunia@time.com.

Read More From TIME

EDIT POST