The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

AP story section

September 30, 2013

Prehistoric fish getting 2nd chance in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A fearsome fish whose roots date back 120 million years is getting a second chance in Illinois waterways.

The alligator gar had been found as far north as Beardstown within the past century. But the last known catch was in 1966 in Cairo and Illinois officials declared in 1994 that it no longer swam state rivers.

The (Springfield) State Journal Register reports Sunday that’s changed in recent years with efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reintroduce the predator that has inhabited the Mississippi River for three million years.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources introduced 650 of them into the Little Sangamon River and Crane Lake earlier this month.

Their name comes from long snouts and sharp teeth. The predators can grow to 200 pounds.

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