All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Alligators of Maine

An alligator was caught last year in Falmouth, but it was by no means the first of its kind seen in Maine waters.

The first was probably the one shot in Owlsley Cove, Anonymous Pond (Crystal Lake) in Harrison in November of 1895.
The alligator was first seen by W. M. Shaw of South Paris. In company with other members of the Owlsley club he was returning from Harrison with a load of provisions when he noticed a large black object floating on the sunlit waters of the quiet little cove, near which the camp of the Owlsley club is situated.

As they approached the object dived and as it went under the water the men caught sight of a head that rather startled them. There was no doubt about it being alive, at any rate.

Mr. Shaw ran to the camp and came back with a gun. He got three shots at the creature during the afternoon, but did not seem to inflict injury. The creature would rise at intervals very slowly and barely lift the tip of his nose above the water, so that the bird shot glanced from his thick skin.

During Friday and Saturday the mysterious creature was occasionally seen by various persons, and shot at several times without apparent effect.

Sunday E. L. Parlin of South Paris arrived and got two shots at the creature without hitting it. He then gave his rifle to W. M. Shaw. The two men went around to the other side of the cove where the shore was more rough and rocky. Their new position brought them nearer.

Mr. Shaw soon got a chance for a shot and apparently dazed the alligator, for it dove and then rose and lifted its head and half its body out of the water. While its head was thus lifted Mr. Parlin, who was scarcely ten feet away, shot and killed the alligator almost instantly. The charge hit him on the right side of the head just below the lower jawbone. [(Omaha, Neb.) Morning World-Herald, Nov. 11, 1895]
It was supposed that the four-foot, four-inch reptile had escaped from a traveling show. The Owlsley Club was planning to have it stuffed and mounted in its camp.

In 1905, Edwin Duran of Bangor claimed to have seen a fisherman pulling an alligator out of Bowdoin Pond—a location I haven't been able to pin down.
When he pulled up his line there was no trout at the end of it, as he expected, but a thing resembling a lizard.

It measured fourteen inches. Mr. Duran brought the creature to Portland for the inspection of a curator of the Natural History rooms.

There it was declared to be no lizard, but a young alligator. Since the alligator is not a native of Maine, the explanation is offered that he was the pet of some person, who, tiring of him consigned him to Bowdoin pond. [The (San Jose, Cal.) Evening News, Aug. 19, 1905].

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