On Nov. 19 of last year, federal wildlife officers in Dare County began an investigation into a dead alligator that was recovered from the canal adjacent to Highway 64, approximately one mile east of Milltail Road in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.
It was determined the alligator had been shot. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now asking for the public’s help in identifying the person or persons who committed this criminal act.
According to refuge wildlife biologist Becky Harrison, the male alligator measured approximately 11 feet long, weighed approximately 445 pounds and was radio tagged. Based on data from research conducted by partners at Framingham State College, an alligator this size that has spent its life in this environment could have been more than 50 years old.
As ecotherms, or animals whose regulation of body temperature depends on external sources, it’s difficult to estimate exact age, because reptile growth is based on length of growing season. Northeastern North Carolina represents the most northern part of their range, and the winter season here limits the amount of growing days for resident alligators, resulting in about 1 inch growth peryear. Alligators begin reproducing when they reach 6 feet in size, which may take animals up to 20 years to reach in this area.
Anyone with information is encouraged to report it to the Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge Tip line (1-844-NWR-TIPS (697-8477) or email [email protected]) or the NCWRC Tip line (1-855-WILDTIP) or visit NCWRC Tips at http://www.ncwildlife.org/wildtip for other reporting options (text, email, etc.).
Anyone interested may also contact Federal Wildlife Officer Jay Eddy at 252-216-8724 or N.C. Wildlife Officer Anna Barbosa with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission at 252-947-1510. The reporting party may be eligible for a reward. Persons reporting may also remain anonymous.