A wildlife biologist in Georgia recently encountered a "massive" alligator weighing an estimated 700 pounds and measuring 13 feet and 4 inches in length, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
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Brent Howze found the animal on Feb. 18 in an irrigation ditch near a lake, DNR spokesperson Sarah Hanson told USA TODAY on Saturday.
A photo showing the gator with Howze in the background prompted an investigation from local media to prove it wasn't a "hoax." Hanson verified the photo to USA TODAY.
The animal was euthanized due to its poor condition; the large alligator had several old gunshot wounds, Hanson said.
It isn't the largest alligator ever found in the state — that was a 14-feet-1-inch gator found in 2015, according to Hanson. Male alligators can grow as long as 16 feet, although anything over 14 feet is considered rare, according to a DNR fact sheet.
Even so, the 13-foot 4-inch animal is a "massive gator," Hanson said.
The only way an alligator can grow so large is by avoiding human contact: "This guy was hiding pretty good to get that big," Hanson said, crediting the state's alligator management program.
Howze told Albany, Georgia, TV station WALB that he wasn't phased by the encounter: "You're perfectly safe. These animals exist. They've been here for centuries, they've been existing with people for centuries and they're gonna continue to," he told the station.
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