The state is opening a season on the big reptiles for the first time in 44 years.
It's open season on American alligators in North Carolina for a few lucky hunters this year. The state Wildlife Resources Commission is instituting a limited gator hunt in the areas of Swan Quarter, Fairfield and Engelhard of Hyde County.
These areas of the state have seen a rise in the number of human-alligator conflicts over the past five years. Wildlife officials hope the hunt will reduce the alligator population a bit and reduce those conflicts.
"A lot of municipalities must deal with downtown traffic and parking, but we deal with resource management and animal control," Assistant County Manager Kris Noble told reporters. "It is pretty obvious to anyone that lives and works here that the alligator...interactions are on the rise."
Only 20 permits
The state will only issue 20 permits via random draw for the month-long hunt, which runs Sept. 1-Oct. 1. More than 400 people applied for the permits. The resident alligator hunting fee is $250, while the nonresident fee will be $500.
According to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, regulations for harvesting an alligator stipulate that hunters shall restrain a gator with any of the following methods:
- Capture and restraint is only authorized in the designated hunt areas specified in this document. Permit holders must obtain written permission to use private or public property in the designated hunt areas. Alligators may not be hunted on National Wildlife Refuges.
- Alligators shall be restrained before being dispatched. Alligators shall only be restrained using a handheld restraining line or catch pole; a snatch hook attached to a handheld restraining line or rod and reel; a harpoon or gig attached to a handheld restraining line; a baited wooden peg less than two inches in length attached to a handheld restraining line; or archery equipment with an arrow-attached restraining line.
- The use of baited hooks is prohibited.
Hunters must dispatch any alligator immediately upon capture, then register it with the Wildlife Resources Commission.
The above image shows Joe Houston with a humongous alligator he bagged last year in Chester County, South Carolina, where there already is an alligator hunting season. Houston's big gator weighed 620 pounds and was 12 feet long.