It will not be listed as a Beltway traffic fatality except in the hearts of reptile lovers. And, at least for the moment, all the Maryland State Police know is that someone, somewhere is missing an alligator.

The alligator was found yesterday morning at about 2:05 a.m. by State Trooper Herman Bethel on the Beltway, near Temple Hills Road.

Bethel said he was making his normal patrol, working out of the Forestville barracks, when he spotted something in the outside lane of the outer loop.

Parking his cruiser Bethel discovered the eight-foot male alligator, dead. It appeared that the reptile had been struck by one or more vehicles said police.

The alligator was moved first to the state roads garage in Upper Marlboro then to Reptile World in Clinton, police said.

Police said that no one has claimed the alligator yet. They believe it is possible that the owner was passing through the area when the alligator fell off or out of the vehicle it was in. The National Zoo has said it will claim the alligator if no one else does.

The circus is currently at the Capital Centre in nearby Landover, but they told police they knew nothing about the alligator.

The police report on the incident says that Bethel spotted the alligator, "in the fast lane." Apparently, he should have kept to his rights.