State News

Stay of execution: NC decides against alligator hunt

Posted February 18

— Alligators in North Carolina are getting a reprieve as the state has decided against holding an alligator hunting season this year.

The state Wildlife Resources Commission announced that it wants to gather more information about how many gators are in the state and develop a management plan.

Alligators grow more slowly in North Carolina than in warmer states farther south.

"We need to do some science and get some better estimates of population, growth rates, before we do that," said Allen Boynton, wildlife diversity coordinator for the state Division of Wildlife Management.

Run-ins with gators have become more common in North Carolina in recent years.

Swimmers bolted Hope Mills Lake six years ago when an alligator was spotted in the water. A 300-pound gator bit a biologist in Carteret County in 2012, and a 12-foot gator had to be shot after it ate an 80-pound husky in Jacksonville in 2013.

A North Carolina State University study a few years ago estimated more than 670 alligators live in North Carolina, but Boynton said the survey didn't look at all alligators habitats in the state and estimates there are probably more than 1,000 gators in the state.

The Wildlife Resources Commission recently held public meetings about the possibility of a state hunt late this summer.

"North Carolina is one of the few states that does not have a hunting season," Boynton said. "People are aware of alligator hunting and expressed an interest in it."

The state will likely have a permit-only hunting season in a few years, he said, and wildlife agents may work with hunters to allow the harvesting of alligators in areas where they are so plentiful they are a nuisance.

"They’re part of our heritage, our wildlife heritage," he said. "People want to see alligators. So, they’re just a part of our landscape, and they should be here."

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