A Florida hunter has reported that he shot an 800-lb. alligator that was feeding off his farm’s cattle.
Professional hunter Lee Lightsey said the 15-foot beast was one of the biggest he had come across in 18 years and required a tractor to move it. (These numbers are approximate: some news reports suggested the reptile actually weighed 780 pounds and was estimated at “almost probably close to 15 feet.”)
Mr Lightsey and hunting guide Blake Godwin discovered the alligator in cattle ponds while supervising a guided hunt on 2 April 2016. When the creature surfaced about 20 feet away from them, they shot it.
“Although this animal is huge I was not that surprised it existed,” Mr Lightsey said. “We have come across lots over the last 20 years that have been only a little smaller. “But what really drew our attention to this animal was the fact that it seems to have been feasting on the cattle on my farm, because mutilated body parts were found in the water. It was a monster which needed to be removed.”
Hunting guide Blake Godwin’s nine-year-old son Mason said this wasn’t his first hunting trip, and it was “not scary at all” to hunt such a huge animal. As seen above, he even posed next to the animal as it was hoisted above the ground by a tractor’s loader. Some people have doubted the photograph is real, Godwin said, “There’s a lot of folks saying that, but it’s 100% real. I took that picture, the photo is real.”
Mr Lightsey’s company arranges hunts for alligators, wild boar and turkey on the farm he owns for hunting trips. The largest alligator previously killed was just over 13 feet long. Lightsey
charges $10,000 to kill an alligator larger than 13 feet and $4,500 to kill an alligator between 10 feet and 12 feet.
Mr Lightsey has been commercially hunting alligators since he began “harvesting” them in 1988 and more than 5,000 alligators bigger than 1.5m have been killed since then. There are hundreds of alligators for hunters between 10 feet and 13 feet, he says, while animals longer than 13 feet are only encountered about once a year. The animals are mostly killed with high-powered rifles. “But always we kill them with the minimum of suffering without allowing them to be injured before they die,” he said.
American alligators inhabit the southeastern United States, with Florida and Louisiana each reported to have a population of more than one million alligators each. Southern Florida is reputed to be the only place in the world where both alligators and crocodiles live alongside each other in freshwater environments such as rivers, lakes and swamps.
Mr Lightsey says he plans to get the alligator stuffed, while the meat will be donated to charity.