By Floyd Ingram
HOUSTON – Alligators have their place in this world, but not on the side of the highway in Anchor.
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks was called to a ditch running under Highway 15 south of Houston on Tuesday afternoon after a big alligator was spotted basking on the east side of the highway.
“We were driving north on the highway, and when I told my buddy, ‘Did you see that alligator?’ he called me a liar,” said Dewayne Redwine, of Clarkston. “We turned around and there he was. We called 911.”
Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived, and the group watched the alligator for about 15 minutes.
“People started stopping on the highway, and that must have spooked him,” said Redwine. “He took off for this culvert that runs under the highway. He moved real fast, and he was real big and black.”
Chickasaw County MDWFP Conservation Officer Tyler West said they initially tried to catch the alligator.
“We usually dispose of them if they are big, because it is dangerous to try and catch them,” said West. “This one was right at the limit. We tried for a couple of hours to catch it.”
The alligator measured 8 feet, 7 inches and weighed an estimated 300 pounds when it was finally pulled from 36-inch pipe running under Highway 15 just south of the Anchor intersection.
The capture drew a large crowd, and authorities were called in to direct traffic.
Authorities ran a PVC pipe up the culvert trying to get the animal out and even brought in a pump to drain the culvert. The alligator was lassoed twice with a catch-pole but got away.
“Alligators have their place,” said West, “just not on the side of the highway and in a populated area.”
With darkness falling, the decision was made to dispose of the alligator.
West said it is illegal to hunt or kill an alligator in Mississippi without a permit. He said anyone who spots an alligator on their property should call 1-800-BE SMART (1-800-237-6278), and a warden will be dispatched.
A typical adult American alligator in Northeast Mississippi weighs about 500 pounds and is about 10 feet long. Alligators have been known to grow over 14 feet and weigh over 900 pounds.
Alligators were released in Chickasaw County in the mid 1970s as a form of beaver control. Alligators eat just about anything and have been known to kill pets. They can be found anywhere water stands year-round and often travel miles from pond to pond.
A 13-foot, 723-pound alligator was caught in the Mississippi River near Vicksburg in September.
It was speculated that recent warm weather prompted this alligator to trek to the ditch on Hwy 15.