The last of nine public hearings on proposed changes to the state’s hunting and fishing regulations took place last night in Rocky Mount. While many of the proposed changes involve modifying the slot size of certain fish species or extending certain hunting seasons, one big proposal, if passed, will allow something that’s never been done in North Carolina.
An alligator hunting season has been proposed for the state, and if approved, would likely run for one month from Sept. 1 through Oct. 1.
According to the NCWRC, North Carolina is the only state currently in the American alligator’s range which does not have an alligator hunting season. South Carolina has had a season since 2008, and according to NCWRC’s Wildlife Diversity Coordinator Allen Boynton, that has increased the number of requests the commission has received from North Carolina hunters.
“We have had requests from a number of people interested in hunting alligators. After South Carolina started an alligator season, the number of requests we have received has increased,” said Boynton.
Specifics of how an alligator season would be run in North Carolina haven’t been publicly discussed. Boynton said further discussion on the details will take place only if the public meetings show enough favor among North Carolinians for such a season. Some basic guidelines are in line with what other states allow, though.
“No firearms would be allowed to be used to hunt alligators, but could be used to dispatch the animal once it’s restrained. The legal matters of harvest would include catch poles, harpoons, gigs, clubs, bang sticks, and archery equipment. The proposal is to allow people to use artificial lights as well,” Boynton said.
And like South Carolina, North Carolina is proposing a limited number of alligator permits that would probably be granted in some type of lottery format. Those chosen for a gator permit would be limited to one alligator per season.
Kimberly Williams, co-owner of Eastern Carolina Taxidermy in Smithfield, is excited about the possibility of an alligator season in North Carolina.
“It’s a wonderful sport. It’s really a lot of fun. Everyone around here has done it. We went to South Carolina to do it. Why go to another state and pay another state to be able to do it, when you can do it in North Carolina and it benefit our state?” said Williams.
Some other residents aren’t so enthusiastic though. Derby Carter, the director of the state’s Southern Environmental Law Center, is puzzled by the proposal.
“It is ironic that we consider (the alligator) to be threatened, which is one step away from endangered, but potentially allowing hunting. We hope the Wildlife Commission gives that serious consideration,” Carter said.
Much of the concern comes from a 2015 N.C. State University study on North Caroilna’s alligator population which ended by stating “while the alligator population is plentiful in the southeastern part of the state, any harvest of adult alligators is not sustainable.”
Although the public meetings have ended, it’s not too late to give your opinion on whether North Carolina should have an alligator season. Click here to have your input considered by the NCWRC.