A family of five had an unusual bonding experience this weekend. The group of Alabama hunters legally caught a record-breaking alligator on Saturday, and the reptile was really, really big. Just how big are we talking? Well, just 15 feet and over 1,000 pounds. According to research from the Smithsonian, the average male alligator is about 11 feet in length, and generally less than 1,000 pounds, so this is quite the mammoth alligator.
According to Al.com, Mandy Stokes and her husband, John — along with her brother-in-law Kevin Jenkins and his two teenage children — brought a monster alligator to the Roland Cooper State Park check-in station in Camden, Alabama, on Saturday afternoon. The family said they pulled the giant reptile from the water in southern Alabama, where it's currently alligator hunting season — meaning, slaying an alligator right now is completely legal.
Staff at the check-in station, including marine and wildlife biologists, had a tough time weighing the alligator. After calling for back-up, the biologists had to eventually use a backhoe to lift and weigh the alligator. According to the biologists, the reptile came in at 1,011.5 pounds. It's the largest alligator to ever be caught in Alabama, out-sizing the 14-foot, 838-pound alligator caught by Keith Fancher in the Alabama River in 2011.
"Truthfully, after I saw the Fancher Gator, in my mind I was thinking there's no way we can catch anything bigger than that," Mandy Stokes told Al.com. Well, she proved herself wrong.
Alligator hunting is common in Alabama, but it's also strictly regulated through the state government. According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, alligator hunting is only permitted in certain counties — typically in the southern and central parts of the state — during a designated time period. The season began in early August this year, and will end on Aug. 24 for all counties.
Alligator hunting is not open to everyone, either. According to the ADCNR, residents must be approved for alligator possession tags before the start of each season. Tags are limited for each area — in Southwest Alabama, 150 people are granted tags, while only 40 people are selected in West Central and Southeast Alabama. Residents must also hold a hunting license with the state to be eligible for a possession tag.
This mammoth alligator caught by the Stokes and Jenkins party may not just be the largest-ever caught in Alabama, but also the world. In June, the Safari Club International named a 14-foot-8-inch, 880-pound alligator snared by a group of Texas hunters seven years ago the biggest alligator to be legally caught in the world. It looks like the association will have to amend its record book to make room for this 1,000-pound reptile.
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