Officials defend euthanizing nearly 10-foot-long alligator at Claremore Lake

CLAREMORE, Okla. — Wildlife officials are defending euthanizing a 9 foot 6 inch long alligator at Claremore Lake.

The alligator was found and put down after people reported seeing it last week.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife conservation said they think someone illegally put it into the lake. They also said possessing an alligator without the correct permit is illegal.

“It’s very unusual certainly...there are parts of the country we have alligators but not in Claremore,” said Micah Holmes of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

The animal was euthanized – officials said it was the safest thing to do.

“It was a big animal and we didn’t feel like we could safely catch it in a live condition and even if we did, we can’t move it to another part of Oklahoma where they may be found, because we don’t know where it came from, what diseases it might have and of course our main concern is public safety. So if this animal is habituated to being around humans we don’t want this animal coming up to animal for food because that situation can certainly turn worse,” Holmes said.

Officials are not sure where the alligator came from, though they think someone most likely illegally put it into the lake.

“We’ve never had any reports of an alligator of that size at the lake and biologists tell us that it would be very unlikely that an animal can survive a lifetime and grow that big throughout the winters that we have,” Holmes said.

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The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is also calling for anyone with information as to how the alligator got in the lake to come forward.

“We don’t have any good information right now about where this alligator came from but we rely on the public to be our eyes and ears out there, so if anybody knows anything about this situation …. please let us know,” Holmes said.

In Oklahoma, alligators normally only live in the southeast.

They usually live through the cold temperatures by sticking their noses out of the water while lakes freeze around them.

Rogers County Sherriff’s Office confirmed that they’ve had reports of possible gator sightings in Claremore lake and creeks on and off for a few years.

Ashley Chapman said she thinks she was stalked by a small gator while fishing at Dog Creek 8 years ago – and hasn’t been back to that spot since.

“It sounded like dragging across and then every once in a while you’d hear something like it slid off of the bank into the water and I’m like what the heck is that!”

She now said she feels the lake is safe.

Officials said Claremore lake is safe and people enjoying the water gave FOX23 their reaction to the alligator:

“It’s dangerous so I just hope nothing like that ever happens again.”

“It can be scary considering like I said my son and his daughter was here kayaking in it not too awfully long ago.”

“We just came out for a picnic lunch and I think I’ll be giving the lake a berth.”

“A week ago I was out here and it was kinda a rainy day and I thought I’d seen something kinda large moving near the shoreline area…. so that slid on by and if that was that gator then I’m kinda glad that it did…. you never think that you’re going to get a croc down here snap up out the water as you’re reeling in your fish you know he’s going to take it off your line man.”

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation said they have no reason to believe there are any other gators in the lake and there’s no need to be concerned.

“We have no reason to believe that there are any other alligators in Claremore lake or any other lake in that part of the state for that matter so go fishing this weekend no need to be concerned,” Holmes said.

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