VENICE (FOX 13) - It seemed like a prize catch. For alligator trapper Jerry Newsome, the 13-foot, 4-inch gator weighing in at over a 1,000 pounds was one of a kind.
"It was just unbelievable," Newsome offered. "You don't often see a gator like that. Very rare. They're in captivity.”
For two and a half hours, Jerry worked with FWC officers and Sarasota County deputies to get the goliath gator out of murky water at Shamrock Park in Venice.
"It was so far up in the bushes. It was so thick, nobody could see. Just getting him out where he was out was the battle because he was so heavy," Newsome recalled.
The massive gator was later killed. It was taken from a spot where two dogs had been attacked a week and a half ago. One dog was never found and the other was put down.
The FWC said the dogs were off their leash and reported to be near the water's edge. Signs around the park warn about gator activity and keeping dogs on a leash.
"As people approach on our habitats and take up that area, we are running into conflict with the alligators," said Gil Castillo, who works to educate the public about gators.
For nearly 40 years, Castillo has toured with the act ‘Kachunga and the Alligator.’ He said this all could have been avoided if the dog's owner had paid attention to the surroundings.
"This gator was where he was supposed to be. He wasn't bothering anybody," said Castillo.
Instead this story ends with the loss of two dogs and the loss of what could have been a state record-breaking gator.
"This alligator may have very well broken a record. The state record for the largest caught alligator alive is 13-foot, 7-and-a-half inches," said Castillo.
The FWC released this statement:
"A contracted nuisance trapper removed a 13-foot alligator from Shamrock Park on July 8. A necropsy has not been conducted.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) places the highest priority on public safety and administers a Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP) to address complaints concerning specific alligators believed to pose a threat to people, pets or property. People with concerns about an alligator should call FWC's toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286). When someone concerned about an alligator calls the Nuisance Alligator Hotline, we will dispatch one of our contracted nuisance alligator trappers to resolve the situation.
Once a contracted nuisance alligator trapper is dispatched and arrives at the location, he or she spends some time discussing the situation with the managing authority or homeowner before attempting to trap to ensure the offending alligator is targeted. Only then will a trapper begin efforts to remove an alligator from the area.
FWC also works to keep Floridians and visitors informed about living with alligators. By taking simple precautionary measures when in or near the water, people can reduce the chances of conflicts with
alligators. Never feed an alligator and keep your distance if you see one. Swim only in designated swimming areas during daylight hours. And keep pets away from the water.
For more information, visit: http://myfwc.com/conservation/you-conserve/wildlife/gators/"