Hunters from Outwest Farms located in Okeechobee, Florida, have posted an image showing a massive, near 15-foot, 780-pound alligator they found and killed. According to CNN, the huge reptile was discovered on Saturday on one of the ponds located on a private ranch owned by Outwest Farms owner Lee Lightsey. The report adds that Lee Lightsey, along with his son Mason, his guide Blake Godwin, and two other hunters, discovered the alligator while they were on a hunt for hogs. They were surprised when they came across this huge alligator instead.
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“We were on a hunt for hogs and happened to come across the gator. There are natural ponds and waterways around for the cows to drink,” Godwin told CNN.
“There are lots of gators out there. It’s the start of mating season. This was a big one.” Lightsey said.
According to Mason, the alligator weighed in at more than 780 pounds and was “almost probably close to 15 feet”.
They also believe this large alligator was behind several cases of missing cattle from the ranches.
While the alligator does look huge, it is probably still not the largest one caught in the area — but it does come close. Meanwhile, Lightsey claims that he isn’t really concerned about the alligator breaking any size records. He told CNN,
“It’s just fun to see a great day for the hunters, the big ones like that are exciting for the hunters.”
Lightsey’s son Mason, who is also seen in the photograph, says catching the alligator was not a scary experience at all. The image posted by Outwest Farms has been widely shared by people on social media and has attracted all sorts of comments — some hailing the hunters for killing the dangerous alligator, others criticizing the hunters. Several commenters also doubted if the photo was real and claimed it was photoshopped. Godwin counters all of them by saying,
“There’s a lot of folks saying that, but it’s 100% real. I took that picture (referring to the photo of Mason laying on the alligator), the photo is real.”
Tony Young, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, also confirmed the veracity of the reports and said the photo is real.
“All we know is a large alligator was killed,” Young said. “We haven’t determined if it was killed in the wild or if it was a farm-raised alligator that was in this guy’s pond.”
Meanwhile, Lightsey confirmed that the alligator would be stuffed. The meat from the gator would be donated to charity, he said.
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Florida is known for housing a large population of American alligators. The largest specimens from these species can range between 10 to 15 feet long and regularly weigh over 500 pounds. The state record for the longest alligator ever caught is 14 feet three-and-a-half inches for an alligator caught from Lake Washington. The same animal weighed in at “just” 654 pounds. The weight record is held by another alligator which weighed in at a massive 1,043 pounds.
According to Young,
“The official way is to have an alligator on its stomach and have someone pulling on its nose a little bit and pulling on its tail to get it real straight. Chalk is then used to mark both ends of the animal.”
These alligator species are known to live in freshwater environments, such as ponds, marshes, and rivers.
[AP Photo/Felipe Dana]