The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission denied a proposal for the state's first alligator hunting season.
Sparked by a rise in North Carolina alligator sightings by biologists and researchers, a hunting season allowing the use of harpoons, bows and arrows, or clubs, from Sept. 1 to Oct. 1 to harvest alligators, was proposed. The use of firearms would be prohibited.
Prior to making a decision, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission held a series of nine public hearings and accepted public comments online.
Ultimately, the commission voted Thursday to disapprove the proposed alligator hunting season, citing "an abundance of caution and desire for additional biological information" in their official statement.
For two years, biologists covered hundreds of miles by boat and used spotlights to count the alligator eyeballs. However, they've been unable to attribute an estimated population number.
In order to determine whether an alligator hunting season is necessary for preserving North Carolina's resources, Landon Zimmer, a Wildlife Commissioner, says biologists need to present more information on the alligators and their birthrates and nesting habits.
In addition to limited information, concerns regarding safety and over harvesting were raised.
James English of Wilmington-based company Wildlife Removal Service fears that people don't know enough about how to properly capture and kill an alligator.
"It's a problem, and I don't know just how they would do it, unless they get supervised hunts. In other words, a man gets a permit, and a wildlife official goes with him," he said.
By requiring a permit and supervision by a wildlife official, the state could ensure only larger alligators that pose a potential threat could be shot. Smaller alligators would be spared in order to maintain healthy population levels.
Although North Carolina residents won't be able to hunt alligators any time soon, this likely isn't the end of the discussion.
It's important to remember that hunting regulations are based on a variety of factors and are subject to change. As responsible sportsmen and sportswomen, it's our job to participate in the conversations and stay up to date on the current laws.