The beast was likely over 60-years-old
A hunter from Texas - Mike Smith, aged 57 - was taking a hunting trip in Florida recently, when he managed to bag a legendary local gator. Smith was hunting between Ft. Myers and Lake Okeechobee on March 7.
He encountered the giant gator, with the assistance of a local guide - Daniel Townsend of Townsend & Sons Everglades Outfitters and managed to tag the gator with a single shot.
Townsend shared pictures of the enormous gator on the company's Facebook page:
The gator had killed and eaten cattle
Relaying details of the hunt, Daniel Townsend explained why the beast was so hard to catch.
“We’d been trying to get that gator for some years. He was a problem [because] he was smart. He’d killed and eaten some of the cattle on the ranch, and he had to go. But it wasn’t easy. I guided a hunter just a week before we got the gator, and the hunter missed him clean—which made the gator even tougher to kill.”
Still short of the record
While this particular gator was undoubtedly enormous, he was still some way off the record for a Florida gator - the longest gator captured in Florida was 14 feet, 3.5 inches and was caught in Lake Washington, Brevard County earlier this year. That one was estimated to be around 80-years old.
In that case, the hunter subsequently came under fire on social media for having killed rather than captured such a specimen so that it could be released into a sanctuary. A similar backlash may yet be experienced in the case of the gator shot Fort Myers.
While both these immense beasts were known to have killed and eaten animals from local farms, Floridians are used to living around gators and the number of attacks on humans is still relatively low.
A 2005 study reported just 376 alligator attacks since 1948. In Florida, gator attacks were on the increase from around 6 per year in 1971 to around 10 per year between 1987 and 2017. The numbers involved are still relatively small given the ferocious nature of alligators and how dangerous they appear.
Have you had any close encounters with gators in Florida? Are you in favor of hunting or do you think the reptiles should be left in peace? Let me know in the comments section below.