An alligator harvested by hunters in Mississippi was discovered to have grown at an alarming rate, nearly doubling in size since it was first tagged in 2011.

The hunters caught the 12-foot, 1-inch alligator in Forest Home Chute off the Mississippi River south of Eagle Lake last week and turned in the tag, as reported this week by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

When first tagged, the alligator measured 6.4 feet, meaning it grew an average of 8.6 inches each year over nine years.

“It is rare to document alligators of this size class with annual growth rates of this magnitude,” the MWDFP stated on Facebook

It’s really amazing when contrasted with the growth rate of an 11-foot, 1-inch alligator harvested by hunter Cory Stewart at the end of August. That gator taken in the Pearl River/Ross Barnett Zone grew only 24.8 inches in the 13 years since being tagged June 14, 2007. That’s an annual growth rate of 1.9 inches per year.

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So what is the explanation given by experts? Asian carp.

“Since the time 2003-2005, this area of the Mississippi Delta has seen a tremendous increase in the Asian carp population,” the MWDFP stated. “The MWDFP Wildlife Bureau has documented alligators feeding on the Asian carp on many occasions.

“People have observed alligators feeding on carp floating in the waterways following a die-off and feeding on live carp. Alligators in this part of the state (tributaries of the Mississippi River) have significantly more body mass than alligators anywhere else in the state.”

Photos of the alligator, hunters and tag courtesy of Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

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