Big Tex was getting a little too "friendly" with folks, so they caught him before a tragedy occurred. As it turns out, he's the largest alligator ever captured in Texas.
The biggest alligator ever captured live in Texas, dubbed Big Tex, was becoming a dangerous problem in the Liberty County, Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge. He had become accustomed to being fed by visitors and as a result had lost his "fear" of humans (if big gators can be said to have a fear of humans).
He was silently swimming closer and closer to visitors on the shore.
Refuge Manager Stuart Marcus reflected:
We were aware of the problem but did not feel the need to do anything about it until it became a little too 'friendly'. We were receiving comments and video of alligators approaching the shoreline when people walked up to crab, fish, or take photos. While the animal had not aggressively attacked anyone yet, it was considered a little too close for comfort. People may not even have been aware of what was in the water lurking, waiting for a free meal.
Refuge staff contacted the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for help with removing the big reptile.
Federal law protects alligators in the refuge, and state law protects them elsewhere in Texas. So, it was decided that Big Tex would be relocated to Gator Country Wildlife Adventure Park, around 50 miles east of the refuge and southwest of Beaumont, TX.
Gator Country is an educational facility dedicated to rescuing 'misguided and misunderstood' alligators.
Gator Country sent out their rescue team and, after baiting Big Tex with a large piece of chicken, it took four gator wranglers to secure and hogtie the beast. They duct taped his mouth shut and legs together and loaded him onto a large trailer for the ride back to Gator Country.
"Capturing this magnificent creature was truly the pinnacle of my career," said Gator Country owner Gary Saurage, who also hosts the show 'Gator 911' on CMT. "All the alligators in the lake scattered out and made room for him and then he stopped about 10 feet from us out in the water."
"We had an intense stare-down for about 20 minutes before it decided to lunge," Saurage said. "I was able to get the rope through his snout and cinch it tight, but then he just took me down the hill, man. I thought I was gon' be a goner, but then everybody got on the rope and pulled me back."
Big Tex measured out to a whopping 13 feet, 8 inches in length, easily making him the largest alligator ever captured in Texas.
"Seeing the massive size of this live animal in person, it was just unbelievable," Saurage said, indicating that the large alligator had also had previous contact with humans. "He had hooks around his mouth and some rope burn. He probably would've been killed if we hadn't rescued him."
Saurage put the call out on social media for a name for the big brute. 'Big Tex' was the overwhelming favorite, so that's what they went with.
He said with some satisfaction that Gator Country is the place for Big Tex. "He'll be able to live out the rest of his life in peace here without being harassed."
There's no word on whether or not there will be any competition between Big Tex and Big Al, Gator Country's other giant alligator, who's grown to a half-ton in size in the last 20 years he's called the park home.
All images courtesy of the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page.
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