Anyone headed to Lake Lanier this holiday weekend can breathe a sigh of relief...the elusive alligator has been caught!
The two-foot-long gator was captured by Southeastern Reptile Rescue after several hours of searching early Thursday morning. The gator had previously been seen on the north end of Lake Lanier near Don Carter State Park and the Chattahoochee River.
RAW VIDEO | Gator spotted swimming in Lake Lanier
The rescue organization was aided by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, who says the gator was most likely someone's pet which they no longer wanted.
"It was NOT from a mother gator at Lake Lanier," Southeastern Reptile Rescue's Jason Clark said. "The baby was released into Lake Lanier, whether it was a pet or caught by someone else." Clark said there's no way a gator that size could have survived a winter in Lake Lanier.
Clark said the baby gator will be released in South Georgia on Thursday. "After an further evaluation, we didn't see any reason he couldn't be released," Clark told 11Alive's Julie Wolfe. He said they got reports the baby gator had been fed by boaters, and were concerned it may have been too domesticated to be released.
"Sometimes when we go to catch alligator, that's what we find." Clark said that wasn't the case with this gator adding: "He made us work for it!" After hours of chasing the gator around Lake Lanier, they were eventually able to get the gator into shallow water and hook it by its tail.
"We choose the tail, because there are no vital organs there," Clark said. "But you can imagine how hard that is with this tiny tail!"
This is the way Clark likes to see gator stories end. With a release to a wild habitat. But, the rescue's facility is filled with gators that cannot be released because they are too domesticated.
"It's so, so important to not feed gators," Clark said.
This is the second gator captured in Georgia in the last several months.
The 6-foot-long female gator lived in the Cochran Shoals area for almost a decade after being spotted in 2007. The animal was seen for the first time in years back in March of 2016.
(© 2016 WXIA)