Florida hunters have killed a 14-foot alligator “once in a lifetime” as part of this year’s hunting season at the James E. Daughtrey Wildlife Management Area.
A photo of the hunters posing next to the dead alligator was posted to the Wildlife Management Area’s Facebook page on Sept. 17 after a four-day hunting event between Sept. 12-16.
The reptile is lying on the ground, its mouth open with what looks like a stick. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department described the alligator as a male weighing 781 pounds and measuring 14 feet, 2.5 inches in overall length.
According to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, male alligators average about 11.2 feet long, an indication of the size of the Texas alligator.
The largest alligator ever caught was 15 feet, 9 inches tall and was caught by an Alabama woman, Mandy Stokes, in 2014. In terms of weight, it is believed that some exceptionally large alligators can reach around 1,000 pounds.
For centuries, alligators have inhabited the swamps, swamps, rivers, and lakes of the Gulf Coast and Southeastern United States with an estimated population of around 5 million, according to the organization Defenders of Wildlife.
In the past, their numbers were depleted due to hunting and habitat loss, leading to the reptiles being listed as an endangered species in 1967. However, populations began to recover, and in 1984 Texas began hunting wild alligators as part of a monitored program.
Alligators can be hunted for a variety of reasons. This includes hunting down commercial markets, like selling their hides, and population control. Critics like the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida say the hunt is cruel and causes undeniable suffering to the alligators that are caught and killed.
Populations are estimated through aerial photography and censuses, using a three-year average to provide recommendations for each hunting season, Texas Parks and Wildlife said.
In general, the core season occurs in September, although there may be differences between counties.
The Daughtrey Wildlife Sanctuary, where the 14-foot alligator was killed, covers more than 31,000 acres of generally flat terrain made up mostly of open lakes. Hunters must have a hunting license.
Among other restrictions, alligators may only be caught with a hook and line, and handguns and rifles are prohibited. Shotguns are allowed to kill secured alligators.
In response to the photo of the 14-foot alligator, a Facebook user congratulated the hunters “on a once-in-a-lifetime alligator.”
Other photos showed several other alligators killed, some over 13 feet long.
https://www.newsweek.com/texas-alligator-hunt-caught-september-1745294 Huge “once in a lifetime” 14 foot alligator caught by Texas hunters