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ODWC releases photos of alligator euthanized at Claremore Lake

Records request
Game wardens JD Stauffer, Travis Garrett, and Lt. Paul Welch

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has released photographs of an alligator euthanized at Claremore Lake last month.

Records provided with the photographs don’t include public complaints ODWC says it received about the alligator. Spokesperson Micah Holmes said those complaints could have been made via telephone to a game warden and wouldn’t be tracked.

Details from the Rogers County game wardens on the shooting of the alligator are also not included. Holmes said he wasn’t sure if the department has requirements around documenting the removal of special wildlife.

Records request
The alligator hangs from a tree.

ODWC’s internal conversation about speaking with the media around the euthanizing of the alligator is consistent with news reports that the alligator was a public safety concern for the department, though Holmes wrote in one email the department believed the alligator was habituated to humans.

“We do not know where the alligator came from but due to its size and location we suspect it may have been habituated to humans,” Holmes wrote to ODWC’s communications team.

In subsequent news reports Holmes is quoted as saying the department was more uncertain about habituation to humans.

The records show the city of Claremore used a public relations firm to handle questions around the alligator. The firm, One 80, contacted ODWC to coordinate on messaging.

ODWC says it believes the alligator was brought illegally to the lake and anyone with information on who may have transported the animal is encouraged to contact the department.

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.