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Game wardens close case on alligator attack

The investigation into the death of a man attacked by an alligator, and then the death of the alligator itself, has been officially closed.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has announced an end into the investigation into an alligator attack, which resulted in the death of Tommie Woodward in the early morning hours of Friday, July 3, as he swam in Adams Bayou at Burkhardt’s Marina.

On Monday, July 6, Texas game wardens received a phone call of a large, dead alligator located near the marina boat ramp, where the attack had occurred just days earlier. An examination of the dead animal revealed it was confirmed as the alligator involved in the attack on Woodward.

Game wardens then began a search for the person or persons involved in the illegal “harvest” of the alligator, which is a Class C misdemeanor offense with a maximum fine of $500. A person was identified on Tuesday, July 7, as the individual responsible for killing the alligator. The person, whom Texas Parks and Wildlife officials did not identify, admitted to killing the large reptile out of concern for the safety of others.

“In no way do we condone the killing of a nuisance alligator, without proper authority,” said Col. Craig Hunter, Law Enforcement director for the Texas Parks and Wildlife, in a press release. “Either Texas game wardens or a licensed nuisance alligator hunter would have been more appropriate to handle the situation. Either way, because of its aggressive behavior, the alligator would have to be killed.

“If there is a positive that can come out of this case, it’s an educational opportunity for us to reinforce to the public not to feed or disturb alligators and that there are proper procedures for handling nuisance alligators,” he added.

Shortly before 3 a.m., Friday, July 3, Texas game wardens received a call of an alligator attack and a report of a missing person on Adams Bayou near Burkhardt’s Marina in Orange. Woodward’s body was located approximately two hours later, but a search for the reptile was unsuccessful.

The alligator in the attack was more than 11-feet long and weighed approximately 400 pounds.