North Carolina's first gator season in 40 years didn't produce the results officials expected.
According to some hunters, North Carolina alligators seem to be about as scarce as unicorns. The state's first legal gator hunt in 40 years, which ran through the month of September, ended with only one harvested alligator.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission reported that a single alligator was killed and registered on Sept. 30, the day before the season ended. The lone gator was harvested in the unincorporated community of Swan Quarter in Hyde County.
It's thought that Hurricane Florence may have had an impact on the lack of success that alligator hunters experienced in this inaugural hunt. But some hunters were at a loss to explain the dearth of gators.
"I don't understand why the county manager and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission would allow this opportunity if there's nothing there," hunter Jeffrey Raub said in an interview with CBS 17. "It would be like having a unicorn season in Johnston County."
"The initial thought was a lot of excitement," he said. "It looks like some great alligator habitat. The problem is there aren't any alligators."
The cost to apply for an alligator permit was $8. The gator hunt permits themselves cost an additional $250.
North Carolina decided to run the alligator hunting season as part of a management plan to thin out the alligator population and cut down on the human-alligator conflicts.
But even with Hurricane Florence, officials were at something of a loss to explain why no gators were harvested.
"A permit to hunt any animal is not a guarantee," North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Conservation Biologist Alicia Davis said. "It's really hard to say at this point. It is something we're going to be looking into. I don't think it's one factor, I think it's probably multiple."