For the first time in decades, some hunters will get the chance to harvest an alligator in select parts of Hyde County this fall. Alligators are federally listed as a threatened species, because of their similar appearance to the American Crocodile, prized for its skin.
The new North Carolina Alligator Management Plan allows counties to request limited hunting seasons to keep the local alligator population in check.
Alicia Davis, conservation biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, said the commission has been getting more complaints about alligators in coastal counties, but there's no hard evidence that the alligator population is growing.
"We do know that human populations are increasing, particularly down in Brunswick, New Hanover County, down that way," Davis said. "And that's mainly where we get a lot of our nuisance calls about alligators throughout the year."
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission will issue up to 20 alligator hunting permits in the Hyde County communities of Fairfield, Swan Quarter and Englehard. Davis said residents there have reported especially high numbers of nuisance alligators.
Hunters need to be 16 or older and obtain the proper permits and licenses by late August. For safety reasons, an alligator must be restrained before it is dispatched, Davis said.
"Most alligator hunters actually... use what's called a bang stick," Davis said."It actually would discharge a bullet, but it has to be used under the water. And so you can see how it would be really important for the animal to be under restraint and, you know, fairly close to the person."
The Hyde County alligator season will run September 1 through October 1.