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Angler Catches Small Alligator in Tennessee Lake

The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Angler Catches Small Alligator in Tennessee Lake

Posted 2024-04-05  by  Stephanie Mallory

The reptile, which measured between 3- to 4-feet long, was taken to the zoo

A Tennessee angler got quite a surprise last month when he reeled in a small alligator instead of a fish.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) said the alligator was caught in Dotson Creek, on Norris Lake.

According to, Rick Roberts, the Union County wildlife officer, responded to the scene where the 16-year-old Justin Wyrick had the alligator pinned to the ground. The angler told Roberts that he caught it using a swim bait.

Wyrick told he was at the lake to catch some bass.

"I threw my bait in there and it, it turned. Like, I didn't expect it to be an alligator," he said. "I fought it for like 30 minutes, and I got it out to the bank."

The alligator, which measures between 3- to 4-feet-long, was taken to the Little Ponderosa Zoo.

"While the origin of the alligator is unclear, it seems evident that it was being illegally held in captivity and possibly released into Norris Lake," said Matthew Cameron, a spokesperson with the TWRA. "TWRA would like to remind the public that it’s illegal to possess an alligator in Tennessee and furthermore, releasing them into the wild poses safety and biological threats to humans and the ecosystem."

According to TWRA, alligators are considered a Class 1 wildlife species, which can only legally be possessed by permitted exhibitors or commercial propagators.

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