LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — The recent sighting of a rather large reptile has created quite a stir in one North Alabama community.
David Champlin snapped two photos of an alligator in Limestone Creek, which he estimates to be about 10-12 feet long.
An alligator that long would be around 10 years or older, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. Seeing as they are commonly found in freshwater and slow-moving rivers, a sighting in North Alabama isn’t necessarily outrageous.
Kenny Johnson with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources told News 19, “Alligators are found throughout the state.”
The American Alligator, says Outdoor Alabama, is the “only species of alligator that exists in [the state],” adding that sightings in northern portions of the state have increased lately and might indicate an expansion of their usual range for habitation.
Limestone Creek is a 45.5-mile-long river that originates in Lincoln County, Tennessee and flows into southern Madison County, Alabama, though the majority of it is located in Limestone County.
While it isn’t illegal to hunt alligators in Alabama, wildlife officials urge you to double-check the strict guidelines for your district. It’s also important to note that only residents and Lifetime License holders in Alabama ages 16 and older can apply for an Alligator Possession Tag.
Non-residents can only participate as alligator hunting assistants.
However, Outdoor Alabama states that not only are alligators a federally protected species, but the state was the first to take action to protect them following unregulated harvesting throughout the 1920s, 30s and 40s, causing a threat of extinction.
Alligators were eventually removed from the endangered species list in 1987 but remains protected.
Champlin’s pictures garnered a fair amount of attention from those living in the area, many of whom say they are thinking twice before jumping in the water this summer.
You can learn more about reporting alligator sightings in your area and restrictions and safety tips here.