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Sep 062013
 

Two record-setting heavyweight alligators were killed by hunters in Mississippi this weekend, just three days into the start of the official gator hunting season. One animal, a male, was 13-feet and 6.5-inches (4.13 meters) long and weighed 727 pounds (330 kilograms).

The hunting party of Dustin Bockman of Vicksburg, Miss., caught this record-breaking alligator in the Big Black River near the Mississippi in Claiborne County. It was 13 feet and 6.5 inches (4.13 meters) long and weighed 727 pounds (330 kilograms). This alligator is now the current weight record for an alligator taken by a hunter in a Mississippi alligator hunting season. Photograph by Ricky Flynt/Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Dept.

“When we finally got an arrow in him, it took us another two hours to get him up close to the boat,” Dustin Bockman, one of the hunters, told the Associated Press.

“He broke all the lines we could get in him. Finally we got a snare on him and pulled him up high enough and got a shot on him. All in all, it probably took us four-and-a-half hours to actually catch him from the first time we saw him.”

The other gator, caught by hunter Beth Trammell, was also a male and measured 13-feet and 5.5-inches (4.1-meters) long and weighed 723.5 pounds (328 kilograms). (See “Giant Crocodile Breaks Size Record.”)

Both alligators broke the previous weight record of 697.5 pounds (316 kilograms).

Once considered an endangered species, the American alligator population has bounced back in recent decades and was delisted in 1987.

We spoke to Greg Robbins, a senior animal keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo, to find out more about the species and whether it is normal for them to grow so large.

What did you think of the record-setting alligators caught in Mississippi this weekend?

It’s unusual to find alligators that big now. In the old days, it was fairly common. You’d read books from back in the day, especially when they first started settling Florida, and some people described alligators as being bigger.

Our largest gator was a male that passed away several years ago. He was under 500 pounds (227 kilograms), and he was a big gator. But this thing was nearly 300 pounds (136 kilograms) heavier than ours. It looked like a good-sized alligator.

The hunting party of Beth Trammell of Madison, Miss., caught an alligator on Sept 1, 2013 in Issaquena County in the Yazoo Diversion Canal north of Redwood. It was 13 feet 5.5 inches (14.1 meters) long and weighed 723.5 pounds (328 kilograms). Photograph by Ricky Flynt/Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Dept.

How big can American alligators get?

They can continue growing their entire lives. When they’re older, the growth is very minimal. But generally for alligators and crocodiles, they’ll grow a foot a year for the first five or six years. And then they continue growing, but it’s usually at a slower rate.

In captivity, people can make that happen faster through diet and feeding them more often.

Are males always bigger than females?

In crocodilians [which includes alligators and their crocodile cousins] males are always bigger than females.

Is it legal to hunt alligators in the U.S.?

American alligators were taken off the endangered species list a few years ago. It kind of shows the success of the wildlife management that the alligators have come back.

In most of the southern states now, there’s legal hunting and they have tags, kind of like deer hunting season. They usually have a certain number of tags a year that people apply for and then they can hunt [the alligators].

Do you agree that it should be legal to hunt alligators?  Please vote and also leave your comments at the bottom of this page.

Should it be legal to hunt alligators?

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This article was written by Ker Than for National Geographic.


Leave a Comment

  • Animal fan

    Hunt the hunter.The only good hunter is a DEAD one!!!! Establish hunt the hunter travel expeditions. Soooooooooooooooooo many people myself included would love this!!!!!!!

  • david

    Se deberia prohibir todo tipo de caza menos el del humano, yo si me apuntaba dan asco y pena si por mi fuese haria concursos de a ver quien caza mas humanos y si son de las misma familia doble de puntos. Somos una especie asesina no nos merecemos pisar la misma tierra que los animales damos pena y merecemos la muerte ya.

  • Mark McCandlish

    My father was stationed at Williams AFB, just outside of Chandler, AZ in the late fifties, and as a child who was crazy about Dinosaurs, Jack Adams’ Alligator Farm in Mesa, AZ was as close as I thought I would ever get to traveling back in time to the Jurassic Period in the Age of Dinosaurs. The display was a series of large pits with small streams and ponds throughout. There was about a six foot drop from the cement wall to the sandy floor of the pens. Some of the Alligators looked like they were close to twenty feet long, weighing over a thousand pounds. They were immense! Thanks to operations like the Jack Adams business, Alligators were brought back from endangered status. Even so, the thought of Mississippi residents shooting one of these creatures with an arrow (Are you kidding me?) and taking four hours to finally catch and kill it sounds cruel and inhumane. But I suppose that’s what one might expect from a bunch of knuckle-dragging hicks.

  • TL671

    Having grown up observing, handling, working, swimming with, and yes, eating Alligators, I have a likely, much more informed opinion than most, if not every other commenter here. As with any other wildlife, if left to expand at the rate that Alligators have since placed of the endangered list until the mid-90’s when Florida opened up a limited hunt, due to the over population of the Alligator. They will either expand into areas where they endanger humans and domestic animals. Or they will overpopulate the areas they inhabit, exhaust food supplies, kill each other in larger numbers due to violent territory battles, and or turn to cannibalism. Alligators eat each other anyway, but crowded into ever smaller areas, will do so more often. Is this the better fate for the top fresh water predator in America? Or is hunting them humanely, controlling there numbers, while preserving their food supplies, and limiting the number of inevitable territorial battle?

  • tomgresham

    If you want to ensure the survival of alligators, you need to hunt them. Sounds crazy unless you understand what’s going on. When gators were protected (which was never actually called for), land owners drained the swamps and marshes so they could get economic value. When alligator seasons were opened, the land owners (and most alligators are on private land) could see an economic benefit to making sure there were alligators around, so they preserved the habitat, and thus, the alligators. Alligator numbers have increased constantly since the tightly-regulated harvesting of a small percentage of the populations was started.

    If you want to “save” a species, in many cases, the best way is to provide an economic incentive to preserving the habitat.

    Alligators never were really endangered according to the biologists who study and work with them. At this point, there are more gators than ever, and there is no concern about their numbers at all.

    Science, not hand-wringing worry, is what works to ensure the continuation of wildlife populations.

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