Tallahassee alligator trapper Broderick Vaughan said he received a call about a stunned alligator walking in circles on the highway near the state’s capital.
He’s caught the creatures for over a decade, so he expected a standard removal job.
The 12-foot, 463-pound goliath he found was one of the largest he’d ever encountered, he told CNN. And it was badly injured. The alligator had collided with a semi-truck, which injured its snout and crushed its head on one side.
Vaughan caught his snare pole around the animal’s neck, taped its mouth shut and wrestled it into the back of his truck and home to his facility.
The gator was seriously injured, and he euthanized it the same day.
“There was no reason to keep him alive and let him suffer,” he said.
Florida Highway Patrol said the alligator crept onto the road around midnight June 3. The exit was closed for hours until the gator was safely removed.
Under Florida wildlife regulation, any gator over four feet in length is considered a nuisance and potential threat to people and property, so it can’t be relocated.
If they aren’t able to find new homes in exhibits or farms, they must be euthanized and sent to processing facilities so their meat can be sold to restaurants or tanned and used for leather products.
The state’s alligator population is healthy at about 1.3 million, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Last December, a similarly-sized alligator was also captured alive in Florida.
The alligator was captured on Dec. 19, as it was threatening divers who were working on a private project on the waterway, according to WKMG-TV.
Divers detected the massive gator underwater and promptly got out to request help, according to Jim Cutway, a licensed alligator trapper who helped in the capture of the alligator.
“The divers had less than 5 feet of visibility, and they knew he was there,” he told WKMG-TV. “The gator was very close [to] them. He was bothering them.”
Half an hour later, a trapper from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission came to help Cutway capture the beast.
“The divers said, ‘We’re out of here until something is done with him,'” Cutway said.
To coax the gator from the water, Cutway said he and the other trapper used calls until the gator “popped” his head above the water.
Cutway’s first reaction upon seeing the huge alligator was, “Wow!”
It took more than two hours for them to wrangle the gator out of the water and onto the shore. While they weren’t in any immediate danger, the gator did give them a “long-fought tug of war,” Cutway said. “That one was very girthy, big bull gator.”
Eventually, the large gator was taken to an alligator farm on the state’s east coast, the WKMG-TV reported.
As soon as the gator was captured, the divers returned to their underwater project, according to Cutway.
NTD News reporter Tiffany Meier contributed to this report.