WRA Officer Burton Capps says he killed it so it couldn't attack others. Officer Capps says he got a call around 3:30 from a fisherman who spotted the reptile lying on a log. Capps said he didn't believe it until he saw it himself.
He suspects the alligator was a pet that someone released in to the wild. WRA Officer Burton Capps says he killed it so it couldn't attack others.
According to WNOX newsman Phil Williams, TWRA Officer Capps was unaware of a new joint program between TWRA, TVA, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. For several years FFWCC has been under pressure, between a swamp and a golf course as it were, from both environmentalists and animal rights groups on the one hand, and concerned citizens and the tourist industry on the other. As the formerly endangered alligator species has proliferated under Federal protection over the last four decades, more and more golfers were forced to retreat from scaly guardians of the greens, and Pomeranian after poodle disappeared into the drainage canal in the backyard with nary a yip. Local sheriff's deputies and state wildlife officials would be called in to deal with the hissing long-tailed problem, and the solution was usually a 9mm round to the center of the offending beast's skull, if the officer was man enough to get that close.
But the tipping point came with the increasing televised popularity of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, who genuinely liked long reptiles. Suddenly the PETA crowd weren't alone, and popular pressure arose to capture and relocate the offending alligators. But the shrinking Everglades couldn't contain them all, and another solution had to be found. The Kevlar pet coats marketed by PetsMart in West Palm Beach to protect Fifi when she went poo-poo in the backyard just weren't selling.
Meanwhile, the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency was facing a problem of a different sort. In some Tennessee lakes, fish species less desired by anglers were crowding out the smallmouth bass, crappie and walleye. Not only was the ecology of the lakes upset; so was the economic food chain of fishing, from boat manufacturers and dealers to bait shops and tourist motels. TWRA tracked a 27% decline in permits sold to fishermen between 2001 and 2005, the latest year for which complete data are available. A predator was needed to thin out the carp and sauger. Did you know the average 100 pound alligator will consume about twenty pounds of fish a week?
So the plan was hatched. FFWCC would capture gators which slithered out of the swamp onto the fairways and shuffleboard courts of Geritol-by-the Sea, and transport them to the Volunteer State. After all, one alligator was known to inhabit Bedford Lake near Manchester from about 1976 until 1996, when it was shot after devouring a Labrador. With the advent of Global Warming, our climate should be even more hospitable to the cold-blooded aliens. TWRA biologists, in concert with TVA, determined that there were seven lakes in their system with habitat where alligators would most likely thrive. One of these, Kentucky Lake, was struck from consideration for public relations reasons after the death of a 23-year old Paris, Tennessee, woman killed by gator in Marion County, Florida last year. Another, Fort Loudon Lake, was eliminated due to the higher population density of the Knoxville metro area through which it flows.
That left Chickamauga, Watts Bar, Tellico, Cherokee and Norris. Of these, Chickamauga was chosen for the first test due to surfeit of sauger in its waters and the near absence of small dogs among the residents along its banks, the better to accustom the small-brained saurians to an all-fish diet.
But someone neglected to tell Officer Capps.
Submitted by Lt/C Tom Hudson, AP
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