13-Foot Georgia Gator Found In Bad Shape, Was Put Down

A gun shot wound to the head was found on this 50-year-old Lake Blackshear alligator.

Brad Gill | March 5, 2019

An alligator that measured 13-feet, 4-inches long recently had to be put down, according to Brent Howze, a WRD biologist in southwest Georgia. The large gator that could easily have been 50 years old was found by a farmer in an irrigation ditch in the Parker Slough area in the upper western portions of Lake Blackshear in Sumter County.

The gator had been in the ditch for a week.

“That is absolutely unusual behavior when this thing could have clearly gotten out of the ditch,” said Howze. “It wasn’t like he was stuck in the ditch, he just wouldn’t leave. We are pretty sure this alligator came there because it was the end of his life.” 

That irrigation ditch feeds into Lake Blackshear and was only a quarter of a mile from the lake. Once Howze and two WRD technicians were able to get the gator out of the ditch, they could tell it was in bad shape.

“It was an extremely old alligator, it had a lot of injuries,” said Howze. “It actually had a bullet hole the size of your finger in the top of his snout—in part of its snout below the eyeball—and it had bone showing on the bottom side of it. The teeth were worn flat, you could tell he was not in good shape. He had only one (good) eye.”

Howze works in WRD’s southwest Georgia region and said he’s been involved in some of the more than 100 alligators that have been tagged in the last year and a half.

“A gator this size should put up a lot of fight. He was not very quick,” said Howze. “He’d been in the same spot for a week. With the combination of everything, we just had to make a judgement call. It was pretty obvious what we had to do.”

Once the gator was dispatched, WRD collected the head to send off a few samples for various tests. The skull will be cleaned up and go on display at Albany’s WRD office as a testimony of the success of WRD’s Alligator Management Plan.

“It was an amazing animal. I would of loved to have gotten it back in the lake,” said Howze.

Howze said there’s been some negative pushback about the decision to put down the gator.

“It was clearly in poor condition. We’ve caught  lot of alligators, and this alligator did not behave like most alligators. He certainly didn’t have the speed or quickness of a healthy alligator. It’s one of those situations where we just had to make a judgement call.

“I completely understand why people are upset, I get it. No one is happy that we had to do this. It’s not anything anybody is proud of, we’re just doing our job. I think about people with their pets. You wouldn’t want your dog or cat to sit there and suffer, so it goes along those lines. Nobody would ask their veterinarian if they they are proud they put their dog down.” 

Fox 4 News is Cape Coral, Fla. released the below video and photos of the gator.

A 13-foot, 7-inch Blackshear gator taken in 2008, while the state-record gator was harvested in Lake Seminole in 2013. That gator measured 13-feet, 10-3/4-inches long and was caught by four Decatur County residents, Dr. Daniel White, Alex “Bud” Harrell, Gary Braswell and tag-holder Jim Overman.

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  1. wchrish on March 24, 2019 at 9:04 am

    Good Call on relieving the agony of this Gator, he had his good days and bad days just like us. It was His time to go. Good Job WRD/DNR.

  2. Brayhaven on March 7, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    By far the best thing to do. That guy would have died a slow agonizing death, or be torn apart by other gators. Animal rights people cause more suffering than they prevent.

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