DNR investigates Flint River gator killing - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

DNR investigates Flint River gator killing

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What's left of the carcass of the poached gator What's left of the carcass of the poached gator
Ranger Ben Roberts Ranger Ben Roberts
How many alligators lurk in the Flint River? How many alligators lurk in the Flint River?

Alligator hunting season is over, but that didn't stop poachers from killing and mutilating a big gator on the Flint River.

When DNR rangers saw the gator floating on its back Sunday, they first thought it was a human.

But then realized it was a gator, killed for it's tail and left behind in the water.

The DNR says you don't have to like alligators, but you do have to follow the law.

Those who saw the alligator say it stunk like decaying flesh, and was sad to see. The DNR says its not only wrong, but illegal to damage on of Georgia's resources that was once endangered because of incidents like this.

The calm and enjoyment of the Flint River Sunday was disturbed by a gruesome discovery made by several boaters and the DNR, an alligator's body so swollen it's hardly recognizable and the stench that came with it.

"We didn't get too terribly close, real bad smell, we got as close as we could and that's all we could bare," said Ben Roberts of the GA DNR.

What's more disturbing, the alligators tail was cut off, an area known for the best meat, the rest of the useful body discarded. "Someone drawing for quota legally hunting, they would have taken the whole gator and would have tried to get more than just the tail," said Roberts.

The gator was obviously killed out of season which ended in October. It raises questions with the DNR whether the gator was poached, an act that nearly drove the species to extinction. At Chehaw they teach everyone to leave them alone when you're in their world.

 "Once alligators are acclimated to people is when they become really dangerous because once they understand people mean food, that's a bad story that's going to happen there," said Chehaw park Zoo Director Kevin Hils.

Right now alligators are on the move. "The girls are definitely setting up spots because they want basking areas. The boys are definitely courting the girls," said Hils.

Which is why everyone is cautioned. DNR is asking anyone who might know how the gator ended up in this condition to come forward.

"You can't just simply dump it in the river so that is wrong there, that is a violation," Roberts said.

A violation punishable by a thousand dollar fine and jail time, depending on what the judge sees fit.

DNR left the gator in the Flint River, DNR never removes dead animal carcass, from the road or water. It will just become part of the river system. If someone's caught for killing the gator, DNR says they'll prosecute.

To kill a gator in Georgia you must apply for a license and follow strict rules. Last year only 800 licenses were granted in Georgia. For a link to those rules on the Department of Natural Resources web site you can click on our website at walb.com

More information on Georgia's alligator population-

Alligators are still considered a threatened species in Georgia even though there are an estimated quarter million in the state.

The majority of that population is south of Macon to the Florida line and along the coast. The state does monitor the species and had four survey routes here in southwest Georgia.

 

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