Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Gator Hole - Boys reel in 5-foot, 60-pound alligator in Kalispell, Montana pond

Most of my gator news is local.

Not this one. It's from Montana.

They don't see many gators up there. Don't understand 'em, and don't know what to do with 'em, I guess. So...I shall refrain from any further comments on the inappropriate actions of the local grown-ups toward the gator.

I don't know how to get the photo from the article to post. But if you click on the link, a nice pic of two young fishermen will show up. And don't they look juuust right. Ah, the innocence of youth.

(I bet Desert Cat had something to do with this. Not sure what. but something. I mean, he was just there.)

The Gator Hole
Boys reel in 5-foot, 60-pound alligator in Kalispell pond

Some birthdays stand out as exceptionally memorable; 16 and 21 usually make the list.

Josh Bryant will never forget his 11th birthday, when he came nose to snout with a 5-foot alligator in Kalispell.

On Monday afternoon, Josh and his mother, Lynn, were trying out the new fishing pole she’d given him for his birthday. The Shady Lane fishing pond near the old Steel Bridge, where he spends three or four days a week during the summer, seemed the perfect place to test the rod.

It was about 4 p.m. when Lynn Bryant spotted something swimming toward them.

“I thought it was a muskrat,” she said.

Then she took a closer look. Muskrats didn’t swim with just their eyes and back ridges sticking out of the water.

The Bryants couldn’t believe their eyes, but there was no doubt the animal swimming toward them was an alligator. Bryant moved to the edge of the dock and started taking pictures with her camera phone, knowing no one would believe them otherwise.

At first the alligator was almost friendly, she said, but they still wanted to get it out of the water so someone could come take care of it. A friend grabbed Josh’s pole and tried to hook the gator. He succeeded a few times, but each time the alligator simply swallowed the lure.

A few more would-be fishermen showed up soon after. One of them had a stronger pole; he, too, tried to catch the alligator but once again it swallowed the proffered minnow, hook and all.

By this time, onlookers had called friends and soon a crowd of about 50 people had gathered. Some simply watched. Others tried to help subdue the alligator, which was now agitated.

“This thing was very aggressive,” Bryant said.

“It was snapping at us kids and adults,” Josh added.

Someone brought a bow and shot it. They knew the alligator had been hit because the arrow was sticking straight up, Josh said. Then the arrow — and the alligator — disappeared for almost an hour. Suspense mounted on the banks of the pond.

“It was like a serial killer movie or something, a killer alligator,” Josh said.

The gator didn’t stay down for good, though. When it surfaced, the crowd was ready.

“His dad jumped in the water,” Josh said, pointing at his friend, Kaynen McGuire.

McGuire, 11, nodded. His father had plunged in the water with a stick, grabbed the alligator by the tail and swung it onto the bank.

“This was right out of ‘Crocodile Dundee,’ I swear,” Bryant said.

Four men held it down and tied its jaws shut with fish stringer, then put it in a canoe and dragged it up to the road. Someone produced a knife and tried to slit the animal’s throat. Still it didn’t die.

“This thing’s got like nine lives,” Bryant said.

The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office didn’t hear about the incident until about 10 p.m., according to dispatch logs. When Deputy Ray Young arrived, he called Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, which referred him to U.S. Fish and Wildlife. By this time, the alligator was in bad shape, so the federal agency told Young to shoot it.

Brian Sommers, regional investigator with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, got the call around 10:40 p.m.

“When I got there, it was pretty much over and done with,” he said. “It was just talking with the people that were there and picking up the critter.”

The “critter” will go in a freezer at the Fish, Wildlife and Parks office, Sommers said. He’s not sure what the agency will do with it.

He’s also not sure where the alligator came from.

“The only thing I can guess is it was probably somebody’s pet,” he said. “Maybe they got tired of it and turned it loose.”

Sommers has had to deal with pet alligators in the past, he said, but only a few and only animals about 20 inches long. At 5 feet long and roughly 60 pounds, Monday’s alligator was the largest he’s ever seen in the area.

If found, the person responsible will be charged for releasing the alligator into the wild, he said.

“Given the right circumstances, we could’ve had a pretty big problem if it got hold of a kid swimming or something,” he said.

If anyone has information about how the alligator got into the pond, call 1-800-TIP-MONT or call Crimestoppers at 752-TIPS.

Even though it’s now alligator-free, Josh won’t be fishing at the pond anytime soon.

“It was just my 11th birthday, and I had to catch an alligator,” he said. “Why couldn’t I catch a little trout?”

Reporter Kristi Albertson may be reached at 758-4438 or by e-mail at

(photo caption & credit)
Keynan McGuire, left, and Josh Bryant, both 11, were two of the children who found an alligator at the Shady Lane fishing pond Monday evening in Evergreen. “It was pretty scary, I’ve lived in Montana for nine years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bryant said. Chris Jordan/Daily Inter Lake


Desert Cat said...

I swear ta gawd, you find these sorts all over the country. Nope. I had nothing to do with that.

Although I did manage to bring Arizona weather with me to Kalispell and Kalispell weather back with me to Arizona, so anything is possible.

pepektheassassin said...

Poor alligator....

k said...

Desert Cat, after I wrote that, I realized I should make clear I referred to the simultaneous APPEARANCE of you and a gator up there - not its uncalled-for demise.

pepek, DC, did you see how no one in that story seemed to even notice the fact that the initially *almost friendly* gator wasn't aggressive except in *agitated* self-defense after unprovoked torment - yet was characterized at the end as some sort of evil monster? SERIAL KILLER?!? Even after being shot, all it tried to do was HIDE!

Under Florida law, those people committed FELONIES.

aw, hell. Said I'd refrain.

pepektheassassin said...

Yeah, I noticed that he seemed friendly at first. (They thought he might've been someone's PET). But, the animals of this world had best keep their distance. People can't even be nice TO EACH OTHER!

Jean said...

dang.....something seriously wrong with those people! they were very lucky, in my estimation.....and, I feel bad for the gator!

k said...

Yes. Lucky. What a fine experience they all had! imagine, running into a gator in Montana. You could dine out on that one story for a year, up there.

And the kid is learning from his elders' fine example. Instead of being thrilled at such an unusual sighting? He whines about it as if it were unfair somehow:

“It was just my 11th birthday, and I had to catch an alligator,” he said. “Why couldn’t I catch a little trout?”

Jean said...

...and the only lessons learned were, how NOT to treat animals...

k said...

Yeah, but DID they? Did they learn them? That's what I was left wondering, at the end. They seemed completely unaware of how all this looked to us.