We just want to take a few minutes and talk about the NCWRC Habitat, Nongame and Endangered Species committee meeting from 2:00-3:00pm held December 7th, 2016. The purpose of the meeting was to update the committee about the Alligator Management Plan public forums held November 1st, 2nd & 3rd and to give an update about the task force.
First, we want to say that we were disappointed to hear some of the comments that were made during the meeting…
Despite those few comments, we would like to commend Allen Boynton and Director Gordon Myers for the presentation and specifically how they handled comments such as those. It is our hope that the Alligator Task Force remains focused on what the Director tasks them with doing and that includes all the criteria for the management plan listed below. Not just the number of permits that can be issued.
The first line says “alligators in North Carolina.” There was a lot of talk about using South Carolina data to determine our biological information. We know South Carolina is not that far away and has similar habitats, but there still remains a huge difference. The point is that we DO NOT know. “Identification of knowledge gaps and additional research needed” is the second line of those tasks. We can’t possibly know how to manage OUR population without real data of OUR state. According to a study done by and published in 2014,
KYLEE DUNHAM - Framingham State University
STEVE DINKELACKER - Framingham State University
JEFF MILLER - Missoula College of the University of Montana
“Very little is known about the population dynamics of American Alligators in northern latitudes.”
“To better deﬁne the characteristics of the northern population, we combined published life-history and vital rate data for studies conducted in North Carolina and South Carolina.”
“Two priorities result from modeling these scenarios:
1) A long-term monitoring program is needed to acquire the life-history and vital rate data on the northern population.
2) Current alligator habitat must be conserved or improved to insulate the species from potential drought associated with climate change.”
We feel that some of the commissioners appear to not be interested in public opinion, or at least not all public opinion. Some of the commissioners seem content with using other state’s data to determine our plan. That, in our opinion, is not acceptable.
Another statement made was that “Studies show that taking the larger alligators increases the population.” Here is a direct quote from the study done in 2014. This was taken from the section on Management Implications of that study.
“To compound management issues associated with the missing population data, the northern alligator populations may be subjected to harvest, as occurs in the southern portion of the range. Because regulations and hunters routinely target the largest alligators (Chastain and Irwin 2008, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources 2012), sport hunting decreases survivorship and transition rates for the subadult stage and survivorship in adult stage below the values used in our analyses. These stage classes were the most sensitive and elastic in our analyses and they had the highest reproductive values. Wildlife management agencies that conduct sport harvests should invest the resources necessary to generate state-speciﬁc population viability analyses to assess sustainability of populations being harvested, especially when facing the predicted effects of climate change. Without data on survivorship, reproduction and growth in the context of population size, alligator populations will be placed in a precarious position through increased adult and subadult mortality.”
We hope that the NCWRC and the Alligator Task Force will NOT develop a management plan based on pressure from those who are pushing for a hunting season using data from other states or those who can ask questions such as “Do we really need alligators? How are they useful?”
If you oppose a hunting season for alligators in NC or have a good suggestion about management plans, please contact the North Carolina Resources Commission –
Wildlife Diversity Program Coordinator
John & Lisa McNeill