Authorities have captured and killed the alligator suspected of attacking a 71-year-old Louisiana man in Hurricane Ida floodwaters two weeks ago.
Then they found what appears to be human remains inside its stomach, according to a statement from the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s deputies on Monday captured the 12-foot-long, 504-pound alligator near the city of Slidell, which is across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, the statement said. This was where Timothy Satterlee Sr., 71, was attacked by an alligator in flooded waters Aug. 30, a day after Ida hit the state's shores.
Satterlee's wife witnessed the attack that took his arm off, said Jason Gaubert, a spokesman for the St. Tammany Fire District No. 1. His wife went to find help but when she returned, Satterlee had disappeared into the floodwaters.
Since the attack, the sheriff’s office, along with U.S. and Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents, searched for Satterlee and the alligator. Over the weekend, U.S. Wildlife agents found a large alligator near the location of the attack, and the team set traps to capture the gator.
The alligator was captured Monday morning and was searched later that day, revealing what appeared to be human remains inside its stomach. Investigators are working to determine if the remains belong to Satterlee.
"I know today's findings does not bring their loved one back, but hopefully this can bring them some sort of closure," Sheriff Randy Smith said in the statement.
On the day of the attack, officials had warned of alligator attacks in flooded communities. "This is an area that has a lot of swampland, alligators, very dangerous conditions," Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee said at the time, according to CNN.
But alligator attacks during or after hurricanes are rare.
Alligators have sensors that allow them to detect changes in pressure before a storm hits, according to researchers at the University of Florida. When the detect an incoming storm, they typically hunker down in their natural habitat.
"They are much smarter than people,” Joe Wasilewski, a UF conservation biologist who has worked with crocodiles and alligators for over 40 years, told the Florida Times-Union, part of the USA TODAY Network, in 2019. "They instantly seek shelter. They have burrows or caves they call home, usually under a mud or canal, and believe me, the first thing they are going to do is go into those burrows and caves."
But researchers say alligators do pose a danger after a storm, especially in areas near bodies of water. They can venture through flood waters into neighborhoods and communities that don't typically see such reptiles.
"When the water levels rise, alligators tend to move around," James Perran Ross, wildlife biologist at the University of Florida and expert on alligators, said in 2019.
Contributing: Christal Hayes, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alligator in fatal attack of Louisiana man captured, killed