24-year-old dog tags found in stomach of 12-foot alligator killed in South Carolina

RAVENEL, S.C. — This was one hungry gator.

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The owner of a South Carolina taxidermy shop said he found five dog tags, a shell casing and even a spark plug inside the stomach of a 12-foot alligator killed by a hunter, WCSC reported.

The 445-pound reptile, which was killed by a hunter and removed from private property, also had turtle shells and bobcat claws inside its stomach, according to a Facebook post by Cordray’s, a taxidermy shop in Ravenel that also sells exotic wildlife meat.

Ned McNeely brought in this 12’ long 445 lb. private land gator this morning! We don’t usually open up the stomach but...

Posted by Cordray's on Thursday, April 8, 2021

Ned McNeely, who killed the alligator, took the reptile to Cordray’s for processing when the discovery was made, WCSC reported.

McNeely said his property includes plenty of swamp near the Edisto River, so alligators are not an unusual sight.

“So I’m rife with alligators down there,” McNeely told the television station.

But this gator was huge. And this reptile did not mind what it ate.

Alligators can be legally hunted in South Carolina with a permit obtained by lottery drawing, WCIV reported.

“I’ve got several alligator tags you apply for with the state,” McNeely told WCSC.

McNeely said he asked Kenneth Cordray, the owner of the taxidermy/butcher shop, about examining the alligator’s stomach.

Cordray found five brass identification tags from dog collars, and two of them were still legible, WCIV reported. One of the telephone numbers still worked, Cordray said.

“I talked to him and he was an older gentleman and he said that he had a lease down on the other side of the river from where the gator was killed, 24 years ago,” Cordray told WCSC. “I’ve always known alligators will take a dog if they get the chance. But how does the spark plug get in there?”

Both McNeely and Cordray said it’s difficult to estimate the alligator’s age. McNeely called it “an old man.”

Cordray said his team will process the alligator meat into steaks, summer sausage and jerky, which takes about a week, WCSC reported. He then will make a mount of the gator’s skin, which will take about nine months to complete.

McNeely said the alligator was the largest he had killed in more than a decade of hunting.

“I had to shoot it a couple of times, and I had to get a bunch of ropes and hooks and kayaks and a tractor with a chain to finally get it out of the canal, because it was in probably an 8- to 9-foot canal,” McNeely told WCSC, adding that he had not decided what to do with the carcass.

“My wife is upset with me,” McNeely told the television station, “because I’m talking about doing a full mount, or I might do a rug mount. I haven’t decided just yet.”