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A large alligator with an adult deer in its mouth underwater.
Information icon An alligator caught an adult deer. Photo by Terri Jenkins, USFWS.

Alligator takes deer to lunch in south Georgia

The sight of a 12 to 14 foot-long alligator is something south Georgia folks see occasionally, but few have seen one take an adult deer out to lunch. Actually — for lunch.

The photographs of this deer-eating alligator were taken from the air by Terri Jenkins, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service District Fire Management Officer. She was preparing to ignite a prescribed fire at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, about 40 miles south of Savannah, Georgia, on March 4, 2004.

“One advantage of fire work is you get to see that 12-14 footers are common from Santee National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina to Coastal South to Georgia’s coast,” said Jenkins. “It looks like the alligator population is doing extremely well.”

This one was at least 12-13 feet long. Jenkins said that some bull alligators have a 35 inch girth.

A large alligator with an adult deer in its mouth underwater.
An alligator caught an adult deer at Harris Neck NWR. Photo by Terri Jenkins, USFWS.

The Service uses a helicopter capable of igniting controlled burns by dropping flaming fuel-filled ping pong balls on pre-selected areas. She works throughout parts of North Carolina, South Carolina and Coastal Georgia refuges and fish hatcheries. The Service uses prescribed fire to improve habitat and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires.

If you’re a deer hunter, the refuge hosts an archery hunt on September 15-17, 2004 and a gun hunt November 19, 2004 (only 150 permits will be issued).

For more information, and to obtain an application, visit fws.gov/refuges/harris_neck.

Applications must be received by August 31, 2004 at Savannah Coastal Refuges, 1000 Business Center Drive, Parkway Business Center, Suite 10, Savannah, Georgia, 31405.

The alligator will not be charged with hunting deer out of season, animal cruelty, or any one of several possible water quality violations. He may, however, be charged with being one mean gator. If we could catch him… Or wanted to…

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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