The community of Dayton is gator country, and it looks like they've snagged themselves a big one.
Four men needed the assistance of a tree and a pickup truck to capture this massive alligator that was getting a little close for comfort. The Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge brought the men to safely remove alligators swimming up to boats on the Champion Lake boat dock.
"When we went over to the refuge this morning, we realized there are several alligators we need to move but this one in particular came up to the boat dock like we were told it would do," Gary Saurage told the Houston Chronicle. Saurage operates Gator Country along with Arlie Hammonds. The two own the 20-acre facility as a refuge for alligators.
Saurage, Hammonds and two college interns first baited the gator into rope lassos in the water. But the gator nearly pulled one of them into the water when they tried to haul him out. So they tied the ropes off to a tree while bringing in a truck for assistance. Once they get the ropes attached to the truck, they hauled the gator out and safely off to the refuge.
"It took every one of us to capture this animal," Saurage said. "It's unreal how strong these alligators are."
So how big was this fella? A whopping 13 feet and 8 inches long. That comes in just a half inch shy of another alligator previously hunted in Dayton. But this time, they captured the alligator alive. And by nearly all measures, that's a much more difficult task.
Sausage says every alligator park in the country called him to congratulate the men on their success. He believes it's a state record. Removing the alligator keeps both humans and the gators safe.
In some areas, alligators lose their fear of humans after repeated interaction. But that can often lead to tragic attacks when a human gets too close or too careless.
"Ninety percent of all alligator attacks are because people have been feeding them," Saurage said. "There are another 4-6 alligators coming up to the dock because people have been feeding them." Saurage says plan on returning to Champion Lake to safely remove more.
So what's the best way to remain safe around Texas' natural gators? Texas Game Warden Randy Button says leave them alone. "Do not feed the alligators," Button says. "The alligators will start to associate people with food. Plus it is against the law. Just leave them alone. They are our last living dinosaurs."
But humans can still interact with alligators in some ways. For instance, Saurage says Facebook users will be responsible for naming him. Everybody wins!