The mysterious disappearance of multiple hunting dogs was solved Thursday when a hunter hauled a 12-foot alligator into a South Carolina wild game meat plant.
Inside the massive reptile’s stomach were the undigested tags from five dog collars, according to Cordray’s butcher shop in Ravenel, just west of Charleston.
Cordray’s staff also found: “1 bullet jacket, 1 spark plug, loads of turtle shells, and several bobcat claws.”
“Two of the tags were legible and one phone number still worked,” the shop wrote on Facebook. “The owner said he had (hunted the same area) 24 years ago and those were from his deer dogs.”
The 445-pound alligator was killed on private land by hunter Ned McNeely, according to the butcher shop. He not only wanted the meat harvested, but he is also having “a life size mount” of the alligator created by Cordray’s Taxidermy operation.
The gator was living along the Edisto River and it was harvested “at the behest of a landowner,” WCIV reported.
“It definitely ate them (the dogs),” shop co-owner Claudia Cordray told McClatchy News on Friday. “It was an old animal, 50 to 70 years old.”
“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” Cordray said. Where we live, lots of people have stories about walking their dogs on a golf course or where ever, and something grabs the dog.”
The shop’s Facebook post has been shared 22,000 times since Thursday, with a lot of people wondering what else the state’s alligators are secretly eating.
“Yep a lot of dogs are lost to gators here in the coastal areas,” one man said in response to the post.
“It’s crazy to me that among all the other wildlife we have, there are these huge predatory dinosaurs basically still lurking in all of our waters,” another posted. “They are a magnificent beast.”
“I bet that gator wondered why he always had a heartburn,” a woman wrote.
Cordray’s handles just over 100 alligators a year at an operation that turns wild game into sausage or jerky. It also offers taxidermy services and will transform your alligator into anything from a full-body wall mount to a “leg” lamp.
“We normally don’t go into the stomach,” Cordray said. “That’s because we once went into the stomach of a big one years ago, and there was a very rotten 3-foot gar inside. It smelled so bad that every one had to leave.”
South Carolina’s alligators typically grow to 13 feet and live more than 60 years, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. The biggest American alligator on record was 19 feet, 3 inches, caught in Louisiana, according to the State Library and Archives of Florida.
Cordray’s is run by Claudia and Michael Cordray, and their son, Kenneth, handles the taxidermy. The biggest South Carolina gator ever brought into the shop was 13 feet, 9 inches. “The heaviest was over 800 pounds and was missing part of his tail, so we are not sure how long he really was,” Claudia Cordray said.
The state’s alligator hunting season ended in October, but the removal of the large gator was permitted because it was on private land, Cordray said.
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