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Darryl Johnston and his wife, Paula, found a full alligator skeleton while fishing Sunday near the mouth of the Tensaw River.
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Darryl Johnston and his wife, Paula, found a full alligator skeleton while fishing Sunday near the mouth of the Tensaw River.

Couple finds huge gator skeleton
Alabama law prevents them from keeping skull as souvenir

MOBILE (AP) — A Turnerville couple who went fishing near the mouth of the Tensaw River over the weekend came back with a much bigger haul than expected — the skull of a huge alligator.

But they found that keeping the trophy could be a huge problem.

Darryl Johnston and his wife, Paula, said they found the full skeleton of a nearly 14-foot-long alligator in brush along a muddy riverbank.

Johnston took the giant skull with him before leaving the fishing spot Sunday evening.

"The skull weighs nearly 20 pounds," Johnston said.

Johnston wanted to keep the souvenir. But
Kenny Blalock, district supervisor of law
enforcement for the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, said it is illegal in Alabama to possess any alligator part not obtained from a valid dealer.

Blalock said if Johnston had contacted the division office before disturbing the site, he could have been allowed to keep the remains.

The office would have had to investigate the site to make sure Johnston had nothing to do with the alligator's death.

Johnston said he will turn over his trophy to wildlife officials.

He said an expert told him the animal's size could be estimated by measuring the distance from the tip of its dried nose to its eye sockets.

By that formula, the alligator he found had been nearly 14 feet long.

Blalock said alligator hunting season in Mobile and Baldwin counties runs during two consecutive weekends, Aug. 17-20 and Aug. 24-27.

The wildlife division chooses 100 eligible hunters through a computerized department lottery.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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