A correspondent of mine on outdoor matters forwarded this email to me today:
This picture was taken by a Lifeflight helicopter flying over Lake Istapoka, (For those of you who are not local, Lake Istapoka is near Sebring, Fl.) That has to be a HUGE gator to have a whole deer in its mouth! Are you ready to go fishing on Lake Istapoka ?! If you ski — try not to fall.
Date: Mon, 1 Aug, 2006 06:14:24 -0500
The alligator was found between Lake Istapoka and Pinedale estates… near a house, Game Wardens were forced to shoot the alligator- guess he wouldn’t cooperate. Jayne and Don Hobkirk could hear the bellowing in the night. Their neighbors had been telling them that they had seen a mammoth alligator in the Lake that runs behind their house, but they dismissed the stories as being exaggerations. “I didn’t believe it,” Don Hobkirk said. Friday they realized the stories were, if anything, understated. Florida Game and Parks game wardens had to shoot the beast… Joe Goff, 6′ 5″ tall, a game warden with the Florida Game and Parks Commission, walks past the 23-foot, one inch alligator that he shot and killed in the back yard of Jayne & Don Hobkirk…
I like to mention storoes of this kind here, so I went looking for news stories. Surprise! I didn’t find any.
What I found was a number of links indicating that the giant alligator-with-deer and game-warden-named-Joe-Goff photos were from separate sources, and the email story was a hoax.
The alligator with deer photos were actually taken by Terri Jenkins of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from a helicopter flyong over Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, about 40 miles south of Savannah, Georgia, on March 4, 2004. The alligator in the photo was estimated to be at least 12-13 (3.6-4 meters) feet long.
The game-warden-walking-past-gator photo was taken by Val Horvath, and published in The Facts (Brazoria County, Texas) April 16, 2005.
The alligator was really 13-foot, 1-inch (4 meters) long. It was shot and killed in the back yard of a home in the Bar X Ranch on FM 521 near West Columbia, Texas by Joe Goff, a game warden with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Hoax emails are in circulation combing the Terri Jenkins photos with the Val Horvath photo, enlarging the alligator’s size to 23 feet (7 meters), and misattributing the location to several places in Florida and Texas.
I still found all this interesting enough to pass along.