Gator in Tennessee? Young Angler Makes Unlikely Catch

When fishing in a place like east Tennessee, anglers don’t expect to hook an alligator. One did, though, earlier this week. The angler and the alligator are fine, but wildlife officials were a bit stumped. After all, gators just don’t live in the area.

Local news reports said that the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) got a call on Monday evening from a young angler who was out on Norris Lake. He said he’d caught a gator about 3-4 feet long.

Image courtesy of Patricia Goins via WATE local news

TWRA spokesperson Matt Cameron says they initially thought it was a joke.

Alligators have been spotted in Tennessee in recent history, but sightings are more typical in the southwest of the state that borders gators’ range. Wildlife officials say that the gator caught on Monday must have been released by someone into the lake illegally.

Gators can survive in Tennessee, but Cameron told local news that it’s not an ideal place for them, especially east Tennessee.

“They love swampy land and warm water,” he said. “The winters here get extremely cold . . . and they don’t prefer deep, clear water. I suppose it could survive here, but it would not be a great habitat for an alligator to thrive in.”

The gator is being cared for at a local zoo until wildlife officials can find a permanent home for it.

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