Five Dead Alligators Discovered Floating Next to Each Other in New Orleans Bayou

Five dead alligators were discovered floating next to each other in a Louisiana bayou over the weekend.

Local resident Johanna Ecke came across the corpses of the reptiles on Sunday while kayaking in Bayou St. John, New Orleans near the 610 overpass on Zachary Taylor Drive.

"I ended up coming upon these five alligators, you know, belly up," she told WDSU. "It was a pretty shocking sight because we've lived here for almost 20 years, I've never seen alligators in a big group like that, let alone all dead."

"It's pretty concerning, and I know that a lot of people around here who live on the bayou and in New Orleans care about all of these animals."

After spotting the alligators, Ecke notified the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (DWF). The agency says it is now investigating the incident.

Norby Chabert, a former state senator who chaired the Natural Resources Committee in Baton Rouge and has been in the alligator business all his life, said that the appearance of the five dead alligators in the bayou could be the result of illegal activity.

"Given the seclusion of the location, the time of year and the manner in which it looks like those gators were kind of put in the bayou, I mean, my trained eye says that looks like the illegal dumping of improperly harvested alligators," Chabert told WDSU.

American alligators are found in fresh and brackish water throughout the southeastern U.S., with their range stretching from central Texas to North Carolina.

The state of Louisiana is home to more alligators than any other in the country, with the population of the animals estimated to be nearly two million. They are the official state animal of Louisiana, in addition to Florida and Mississippi.

American alligator
Stock image: The American alligator is endemic to the southeastern United States. iStock

Alligators in America were once threatened by overhunting. In fact, they were classified as an endangered species by the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Since then, successful conservation efforts have enabled American alligator numbers to bounce back and they are now designated as being of "Least Concern" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. Several states, including Louisiana, have implemented successful alligator management programs.

American alligators are the largest reptiles in North America, with males growing to about 13 feet in length and weighing more than 500 pounds. Their average life span is around 70 years, although they can live up to around the age of 100.