Authorities have captured and killed the alligator suspected of attacking a 71-year-old Louisiana man in the floodwaters of Hurricane Ida two weeks ago.
Then they found what appeared to be human remains in his stomach, according to a statement from the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s deputies on Monday captured the 12-foot-long, 504-pound alligator near the town of Slidell, which is across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, the statement said. It was there that Timothy Satterlee Sr., 71, was attacked by an alligator in the flooded waters on August 30, a day after Ida struck the state’s coastline.
Satterlee’s wife witnessed the attack that tore off her arm, said Jason Gaubert, spokesperson for St. Tammany Fire District No.1. His wife went to get help but on his return, Satterlee had disappeared in the floodwaters.
Since the attack, the sheriff’s office, along with wildlife and fisheries officers from the United States and Louisiana, have searched for Satterlee and the alligator. Over the weekend, US wildlife officers found a large alligator near the site of the attack and the team set up traps to capture the alligator.
The alligator was captured Monday morning and searched later that day, revealing what appeared to be human remains inside its stomach. Investigators are trying to determine if the remains belong to Satterlee.
“I know today’s findings don’t bring their loved one back, but hopefully it can give them some sort of closure,” Sheriff Randy Smith said in the statement.
On the day of the attack, officials warned of alligator attacks in flooded communities. “It’s an area that has a lot of swamps, alligators, very dangerous conditions,” Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee said at the time, according to CNN.
But alligator attacks during or after hurricanes are rare.
Alligators have sensors that allow them to detect changes in pressure before a storm hits, according to researchers at the University of Florida. When they detect an impending storm, they usually hide in their natural habitat.
“They are a lot smarter than people,” Joe Wasilewski, a UF conservation biologist who has worked with crocodiles and alligators for more than 40 years, told the Florida Times-Union, which is part of the network. USA TODAY, in 2019. “They instantly seek shelter. They have burrows or caves that they call home, usually under a mud or a canal, and trust me, the first thing they’re going to do is to enter these burrows and caves. ”
But researchers say alligators pose a danger after a storm, especially in areas near water bodies. They can venture through flood waters into neighborhoods and communities that typically do not see such reptiles.
“When water levels rise, alligators tend to move,” said James Perran Ross, University of Florida wildlife biologist and alligator expert, in 2019.
Contribution: Christal Hayes, USA TODAY
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