A giant alligator weighing almost 60 stone (380kg) has been killed by hunters in the US.
The record-breaking reptile was dragged out of the Yazoo River in Mississippi on Saturday, which was the second day of the state’s hunting season.
Hunter Don Woods told the Clarion Ledger newspaper: ‘We knew he was wide. His back was humongous.
‘We hooked him eight or nine times, and he kept breaking off. He would go down, sit and then take off. He kept going under logs.
‘He knew what he was doing. The crazy thing is he staying in that same spot.’
The four experienced hunters spotted the huge gator at around 9pm while they were out on their boat.
He said the animal broke almost all of his group’s rods, but it eventually became exhausted from thrashing around and could be reeled in after around seven hours of effort.
‘He dictated everything we did,’ Don added. ‘It was exhausting, but your adrenaline is going so you don’t notice it.
‘We knew we had a big alligator. We were just amazed at how wide his back was and how big the head was. It was surreal, to tell you the truth.’
The alligator broke the state record for longest alligator ever harvested, with a length of 14ft and 3in (4.3m). Its stomach measured 66in (1.7m), and its tail was 46.5in (1.2m) long.
Don and the three other hunters – Tanner White, Will Thomas and Joey Clark – were pictured at the Red Antler Processing wild game store posing with their kill.
No catch however could ever compete with these British lads on holiday who reeled in a whopper of a catfish.
Hundreds of people commented under the photo posted on Facebook, with many congratulating the hunters on their catch, and one person calling the beast ‘nightmare material’.
But others protested against the killing of the creature, with Aaron Jackson writing: ‘They hunt us, they’re a threat – we hunt them, we are record holders. Gator wasn’t supposed to be killed.’
Gator hunting has long been part of the culture in states including Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi.
People have used the skins of alligators for clothing and accessories since the 1800s, and many even harvest the reptiles for their meat, turning the animal into sausages or nuggets.
The practice was banned in the 1960s after alligators saw a dramatic drop in population and they were labelled as endangered.
Following the ban the population boomed, and there are now more than one million in the state of Florida alone.
Regulated gator hunting was then reintroduced to several states, with stringent rules including restricting hunting to certain times of year and only using humane practices.
Hunting is restricted by season to allow alligators to breed, nest, and raise their young during the summer. Dates vary from state to state but usually last for a couple of weeks by daylight.
Legal alligator hunting is now seen as a way of keeping the population in check and maintaining ecosystems.
The previous record for the largest alligator caught in the Mississippi state was broken in 2017, with a just over 14ft catch weighing almost 55 stone (350kg).
Alligators are often seen as a danger to human populations, with some eating pet dogs and even occasionally killing people.
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