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Alligator Gar Caught in Kansas for First Time Ever

The alligator gar taped in at 4.5 toes lengthy. KDWP

Officers are investigating how an alligator gar was just lately caught from the Neosho River in Kansas. It’s the primary time an alligator gar was caught within the state, according to the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks (KDWP). Angler Danny Smith landed the 39.5-pound alligator gar that measured 4.5 toes lengthy on a September night time fishing journey within the southeast nook of the state.

Alligator gar are endemic to parts of the Mississippi River Drainage in southwest Ohio, southeast Missouri, Illinois, and in southern waters close to the Gulf of Mexico. They’re additionally present in southern Oklahoma. Discovering an alligator gar in Kansas is perplexing KDWP fisheries biologists. The Neosho River is a 463-mile tributary of the Arkansas River in jap Kansas and northeast Oklahoma, and the Neosho’s tributaries join with parts of the Arkansas and Missouri rivers, amongst different waterways.

“We’re assured the data from the angler is correct and the fish was, the truth is, caught from the Neosho River,” KDWP Fisheries biologist Connor Ossowski stated in a press release. “Nevertheless, that doesn’t imply the fish originated from the river.”

Although not in Kansas, a number of states have reintroduction packages to assist the threatened alligator gar return to its native vary. In these states, wildlife managers typically chip-tag hatchery-reared alligator gar earlier than releasing them. Nevertheless, KDWP officers stated the Neosho fish didn’t have such a marker and imagine it’s a wild fish.

“As a result of most populations of this species may be distinguished from each other with a pattern of the fish’s fins, another choice we’re contemplating is genetic identification,” stated KDWP assistant director of Fisheries analysis, Jeff Koch. “This can inform us if the fish got here from an present inhabitants in one other state.”

The Neosho is an extended river with 12 low-head dams and two others that create lakes, together with Grand Lake. The river was beforehand named the Grand when explorer Zebulon Pike encountered it on his go to with the Pawnee in 1806. Right this moment, blue catfish, paddlefish, and largemouth bass are most frequently focused by anglers there. Kansas has three native species of gar: longnose, shortnose, and noticed. Longnose are the commonest and measure as much as 5 toes lengthy. However their heads and snouts will not be as rounded and pronounced because the alligator gar, which may develop to greater than 300 kilos and eight toes lengthy.

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Koch stated if the fin sampling for genetic ID of the gar is unsuccessful, the KDWP might use strive utilizing microchemistry, which entails evaluating the ingredient focus in a bone pattern with that of the river water. If the basic samples present consistencies, biologists might decide how lengthy the fish has been within the river. Officers additionally haven’t dominated out the chance the alligator gar was launched by somebody who had it in an aquarium or tank. They’re nonetheless contemplating all prospects: “It’s not unlikely that this fish was as soon as any individual’s pet or bought from a pet retailer, and easily launched into the river as soon as it turned too giant,” stated Doug Nygren, KDWP Fisheries Division director. “These strategies ought to permit us to find out which mode of introduction occurred.”

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