A massive alligator was found in southwest Georgia last weekend and due to its size, the viral images of the giant gator initially generated speculation online as to whether the animal was actually real.
Brent Howze, a Wildlife Biologist with the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, confirmed to CBS News that the gator was, in fact, real. Howze received a call from a farmer who found the alligator in an irrigation ditch. He originally expected the animal to be 10 or 11 feet long, but was shocked by its size when he arrived with two other DNR wildlife technicians, Graham Rhone and Owen Jenkins.
According to Howze, the alligator was 13 feet 4 inches long, with an estimated weight of around 700-750 pounds. It had a chest girth of 57 inches.
The gator was found in Lake Blackshear on the Flint River in Georgia. It had been in the ditch for almost a week before it was rescued, "which is very unusual behavior for an alligator," Howze told CBS News on Saturday.
The three men worked together to get the alligator out of the ditch. "We have captured quite a few alligators, but none this large," Howze said. "It was a little unnerving at first given it's size and power, but I work with an amazingly talented group of folks and we were pretty confident we could deal with the situation."
"Without them, this would not have been possible," Howze said of Rhone and Jenkins.
Howze said that the alligator had several previous injuries — including what appeared to be old gunshot wounds — when he was found. Due to his poor conditions and old age, the team decided to euthanize him.
"Alligators this size are not common, although males can reach over 14 feet in size," Howze said. Georgia's alligator hunting season lasts from August 17 to October 8 and can be trapped by nuisance alligator trappers contracted through the state, so most alligators won't live long enough to become 700 pounds. They can only grow to be as large and live as long as the one they found by avoiding people.