TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A viral photo of an alligator that was recently found in Georgia is not a hoax, wildlife officials say.
The 700-pound reptile was discovered in an irrigation ditch near Lake Blackshear, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said this week.
“It’s a testament to Georgia’s alligator-management program that alligators can grow to this size,” DNR spokeswoman Melissa Cummongs told First Coast News. “The only way these animals get this large is by avoiding humans.”
A photo of the 13-foot creature was dismissed as a hoax after it began circulating on social media this week.
“Apparently a lot of people think it’s fake, but I can assure you that it is not,” Brent Howze, a wildlife biologist told the Cordele Dispatch. “I’m the one in the picture, and you can probably tell that I didn’t get too close to it.”
Sadly, the gator had sustained multiple gunshot wounds and had to be euthanized.
According to First Coast News, it wasn’t the largest alligator found in the state, but it got pretty close. The largest alligator ever recorded in Georgia was harvested in 2015 and was 14 feet long.