- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - An Auburn couple recently reeled in an unusual catch from a multi-acre pond on their property just off Alabama 14 - a 10-foot, 2-inch alligator, reportedly the largest caught in a Lee County pond.

Terry Parker spotted the estimated 400-pound gator in mid-June when he and Yorkshire terrier Gracie were driving around the family’s property. It’s not the first time Parker and his wife, Francine, have spotted an alligator in one of their ponds. About five years ago, the Parkers had a 4-foot alligator removed from the property.

“In those days, they tried to trap them and release them,” Terry Parker explained.

But after welcoming a host of baby goats and geese this spring, the Parkers were worried about the damage a large alligator could do. They consulted with a game warden from Elmore County, who gave the Parkers a permit to kill the “nuisance alligator.”

Terry Parker found the largest hooks he could, baited them with chicken and fashioned them around the pond to lure in the gator. With the help of a neighbor’s friend visiting from Louisiana - who has caught more than 200 alligators and was turned away from a casting call from History Channel’s “Swamp People” for being “too normal” - the Parkers briefly caught the gator. But the hooks were no match for his powerful bite.

“He’d straightened out the hooks,” Parker said.

Over the next few weeks, the Parkers saw the alligator, who they named Al, in the early mornings and after dusk. Friends visited with flashlights, and many caught a glimpse of Al swimming in the dark.

“There was one time over the couple of weeks’ saga . Terry drove the golf cart around the pond, and he just followed,” Francine Parker said. “He was curious.”

By June 27, Parker had acquired strong treble hooks to catch the alligator once and for all. Once they spotted him on the line, Terry Parker and his cousin, Scott Jordan, hoisted the alligator out of the water and repeatedly shot it.

“I don’t care what the animal is,” Francine Parker said. “I don’t want to see him suffering.”

Jordan and the Parkers have frozen the meat, and the carcass was given to a paleontologist at the Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine to be used for anatomy and physiology classes.

The Parkers think the alligator traveled either from a pond about a quarter mile north or Saugahatchee Creek, through a culvert underneath Alabama 14, most likely in search of a mate.

“They’ve been not far from here for many, many years,” Terry Parker said.

Still, he doesn’t expect many more alligator encounters.

“We’ve only had this incident twice, and I’ve been here 15, 16 years,” he said.


Information from: Opelika-Auburn News, https://www.oanow.com/

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