A wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) discovered a 13-foot, 700-pound alligator in an irrigation ditch this week.
The alligator was living along Lake Blackshear and was spotted by a local Sumter County resident on Feb. 25, who reported it to authorities.
When its pictures started to appear on social media, it’s massive size led people to think it was a hoax.
“Apparently a lot of people think it’s fake, but I can assure you that it is not,” Brent Howze, a DNR wildlife biologist told Cordele Dispatch. “I’m the one in the picture, and you can probably tell that I didn’t get too close to it.”
Now THIS is a gator. 🐊 and YES…it really was caught on the Sumter County side of Lake Blackshear in GA (near Crisp…
Howze measured the animal at 13 feet and 4 inches long with a chest girth of 57 inches. He was not expecting to find anything longer than 10 to 11 feet long when he first arrived at the spot.
“It’s a testament to Georgia’s alligator management program that alligators can grow to this size,” Melissa Cummings, a spokeswoman with Georgia DNR, told the First Coast News. “The only way these animals get this large is by avoiding humans.”
Cummings said the alligator was in the ditch for close to a week and this was unusual behavior for an alligator.
WOW! A 13-foot, 700-pound alligator was found in an irrigation ditch in Georgia. Unfortunately, it was in such rough shape it had to be euthanized. https://t.co/pseM5GZcYC
— Fox 35 News (@Fox35News) March 2, 2019
“It took a while to get it out of that ditch. It was bigger than we originally anticipated and we had to use heavy equipment to move it,” Howze told Cordele Dispatch.
Once the biologist got it out on the land, they noticed various old gunshot wounds on its body. It was in extremely poor health and had to be euthanized.
First Coast News reports that the largest alligator ever discovered in Georgia was 14-foot long. It was recorded during a hunting season in Lake Walter F. George and harvested in 2015.
As pictures of the massive 700-pound alligator spread across social media this week, many thought it was a hoax. Turns…
Cummings said the heaviest was hunted in 2011 and was 860 pounds and 13 feet, 4 inches long.
A factsheet (pdf) on Georgia Wildlife alligators mentions there are 200,000 to 250,000 alligators in Georgia and are found in the cities of Columbus, Macon, and Augusta.
They are found in a variety of wetland habitats in these cities: In marshes, swamps, rivers, farm ponds and lakes in the wild. They have also been found in ditches, neighborhoods, drainage canals, roadways, golf course ponds, and sometimes in swimming pools.
JUST ANOTHER DAY IN THE OFFICE! Sgt. Tony Cox patrols Lake Seminole and the surrounding swamp (with alligators) in a new mud boat with a surface drive motor. These boats are great for navigating shallow water and heavily vegetated waterways. Another vehicle you may operate if you become a Georgia Game Warden! Visit www.gadnrle.org/careers-le for more info.
Posted by Law Enforcement Division – Georgia DNR on Monday, 18 February 2019
The factsheet mentions there have been only nine reported incidents of alligators attacks on humans in Georgia from 1980 till May 2007, including one death in 2007.
“Six of these incidents happened as a result of the human stepping on or otherwise making contact with a submerged alligator. The remaining three incidents were a result of the alligator mistaking the human for prey,” it said.
A wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources found the animal. https://t.co/CXkqlXfyEZ
— First Coast News (@FCN2go) March 1, 2019