A Florida-based professional hunter has shot and killed a 15ft alligator at his farm, which he suspected was feeding on his cattle. The carcass of the animal was removed from the farm with the help of a tractor.
Lee Lightsey and guide Blake Godwin went to locate the alligator – on the farm the former owns and uses for hunting trips – on 2 April. They found the beast near the dew ponds and shot it from a distance of 20ft. The hunter said he is planning to get the alligator stuffed and donate its meat to charity.
Lightsey told the BBC he was not surprised by the massive size of the reptile. He said that although the 360kg "monster" was the biggest he had encountered so far, he "was not that surprised it existed." The hunter added that 10 to 13ft long alligators were abundant in the area, but those longer than 13ft were seen only around once a year.
Lightsey, whose company organises hunts for alligators, wild boar and turkey on his farm, said that he has come across many alligators in the past 20 years "that have been only a little smaller". The previous alligator he hunted was 13ft long.
"But what really drew our attention to this animal was the fact that it seems to have been feasting on the cattle on my farm, because mutilated body parts were found in the water. It was a monster that needed to be removed," the hunter told BBC.
Lightsey began hunting professionally when he started breeding alligators in 1988. Charges for hunting alligators vary with the size of the reptile – $10,000 (£7,093) to kill an alligator larger than 13ft and $4,500 for an alligator between 10 and 12ft. He has hunted more than 5,000 alligators larger than 5ft in length. He mostly uses a high-powered rifle to kill the animals, which according to him kills the creature "with minimum of suffering without allowing them to be injured before they die".