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Alligator Hunters Nab Mississippi's Heaviest Gator

This 727-lb. (329-kg) alligator was caught over the 2013 Labor Day weekend in Claiborne County, Mississippi. It broke the state's record for heaviest gator. (Image credit: Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks)

Twice over Labor Day weekend, hunters in Mississippi broke the state record for the heaviest alligator ever caught, wildlife officials said.

The first male alligator was brought in shortly after midnight on Sept. 1 in a canal north of Redwood, Miss. It weighed 723.5 lbs. (328 kilograms), beating the previous record of 697.5 lbs. (316 kg), set during last year's hunting season, but it was only the recordholder for about an hour.

Another hunting party soon after snagged a male gator in the Big Black River, a tributary of the Mississippi River, in Claiborne County that weighed 727 lbs. (329 kg).

"This alligator is now the current weight record for an alligator taken by a hunter in a Mississippi alligator hunting season," said officials with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

The hunting party of Beth Trammell of Madison, Miss., caught this huge gator shortly after midnight on Sept 1, 2013. For just an hour, it held the state record for heaviest alligator caught during a hunting season. (Image credit: Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks)

Both of the record-breaking gators were around 13.5 feet (4.1 meters) long, with bellies measuring more than 5 feet (1.5 m) around the middle.

American alligators, which can live for up to 50 years in the wild, have been known to grow to even more extreme sizes. Adult males can measure up to 20 feet (6 m) long and weigh up to half a ton (450 kg), though on average, males are about 11 feet (3.4 m) and 500 lbs. (226 kg),

Once over-hunted to the brink of extinction, American alligators made a remarkable comeback in the last few decades after being put on the U.S. Endangered Species List. The population was pronounced fully recovered in 1987. Souteastern states like Mississippi, where the reptiles are found, have since initiated alligator-hunting seasons. Residents must apply for a special permit to capture and kill the animals. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks says it issued 920 gator-hunting permits for the 2013 season.

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Megan Gannon
Megan has been writing for Live Science and Space.com since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.