A family in Alabama made quite the catch over the weekend, and a record-breaking one at that. After a lengthy battle that stretched into the early hours of Saturday morning, a crew of five relatives brought a huge alligator to a state park check-in station, where officials have determined that the massive 1,000-pound-plus reptile has set a new state record for the largest legally-killed alligator.
The crew that managed to get the gator out of the waters near Millers Ferry in west-central Alabama was comprised of Mandy Stokes, her husband John, brother-in-law Kevin Jenkins, and his children Savannah, 16, and Parker, 14. After harvesting the animal, a process that according to the family involved some harrowing moments, the gator was eventually strapped to the side of the boat and hauled to the boat landing, where a four-wheel-drive vehicle then helped take it to the check station.
The alligator clocks in at an even 15 feet long, but weighing it became another story altogether when the gator was hooked to a hoist system. Mike Sievering, District III Supervising Wildlife Biologist with Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, told Examiner in an email exchange Monday that biologists ran into problems when the rig made a “loud popping noise” and saw that a quick-connect attached to the pole and cable had separated and stretched out, making it impossible to hoist and weigh the gator.
After lowering the gator back to the ground, the division called Alabama State Parks for assistance. Officials brought a backhoe to help lift it for weighing and at long last, the gator’s official weight was called at a whopping 1011.5 pounds. It also measured 70.5 inches around the stomach, 46 inches around the base of the tail, and 16 inches around the snout. Biologists estimate the gator to be in excess of 50 years old.
The animal is the second record-setting gator to come from the region in a regulated hunt. This particular gator was harvested as part of a regulated six-day season that came as a result of increasing alligator numbers and complaints from the public associated with them. Fifty tags were issued in the region for the season.
Sievering, who has been with Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries for nearly 30 years, says he’s been involved with other unusual wildlife calls such as big cat sightings and even bear sightings in downtown Birmingham. Though another gator was harvested in the same area a couple of years ago that was more than 14 feet long and weighed over 800 pounds, the one found this weekend takes the cake.
“I’ve never seen an alligator this big,” Sievering said.