Management plan to be developed instead

The N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission has decided not to create a hunting season for alligators after a preponderance of comments in opposition to the proposal.

The commission, which governs and administers hunting and fishing regulations in the state, said in a resolution passed last week that 41 percent of 328 comments received during statewide public hearings opposed the idea. Another 648 emails were sent voicing opposition to the proposal.

In addition, eight organizations voiced opposition to the proposed hunt, including the Society of Amphibians and Reptiles, the N.C. Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, the Carteret County Wildlife Club, the Coastal Plain Conservation Group, the N.C. Wildlife Federation, the N.C Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, The Alligator Alliance, and the N.C. Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee. Each of the groups submitted letters or resolutions in opposition to the creation of a season on the American Alligator.

The commission had announced late last year that it was considering a month-long alligator hunting season that would have been held in September.

In its resolution rejecting the proposal, the wildlife commission said that “while the Commission believes the take of alligators in some situations is reasonable and appropriate, based on public comments and the need to further refine conditions under which alligator hunting should be allowed, the Commission does not approve” the proposal.

The resolution states that the commission would establish a North Carolina Alligator Task Force to develop an alligator management plan, which would include evaluating biological information on alligators, identifying knowledge gaps, conducting more research into changes in alligator habits, identifying areas where alligators are overpopulated, recommending geographical management zones, establishing metrics to establish number of permits that could be issued for harvesting alligators, and gathering more public input on the subject.

The proposal for an alligator hunt came as a result of an increase in the instances of conflict between residents and the reptiles, according to the wildlife commission. One of those incidents occurred in Havelock, as a large alligator roamed the Hickman Hills and other areas along U.S. 70 in the western parts of the city for about a week in June before it was captured and relocated.