Quantcast

Increase in human-alligator encounters spurs student research - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

Increase in human-alligator encounters spurs student research

Posted: Updated:
RALEIGH, N.C. -

It's becoming more and more common these days to run into an alligator, whether near your home, in the park, or somewhere else. Now wildlife researchers in Raleigh are interested in finding out why.

North Carolina State University student Lindsey Garner spent this summer and last summer counting alligators in the swamps, rivers, and marshes of eastern North Carolina so researchers can estimate the state's current alligator population.

The Wildlife Resources Commission asked her to spearhead the project, in part, so they can better handle the increasing number of human-alligator encounters.

"There's a lot of people, a lot of pets, and a lot of alligators potentially in the same location," said Dr. David Cobb, wildlife management chief at the Wildlife Resources Commission.

No one can forget the day a 12-foot alligator snatched up an 80-pound dog in Jacksonville and ate it. These days, the Wildlife Resources Commission is getting a lot of phone calls about gators.

In 2010, biologists got 52 phone calls about gators. In 2011, they received 83 phone calls. In 2012, they received 94 phone calls. And they received 141 phone calls in 2013, according to Brad Howard, certified wildlife biologist with the Wildlife Resources Commission.

"We've suspected that there's been an increase both in distribution and abundance of alligators, but we haven't actually tried to quantify it until now," said Cobb.

Garner and dozens of researchers spent this summer and last summer counting alligators from the Virginia border to South Carolina border.

They hit up the Trent River, White Oak River, lakes in the Croatan National Forest, and many other alligator habitats.

"In the 1970s, alligators were listed as endangered species. In more southern states, the population has rebounded, but in North Carolina, we don't know what the population looks like," said Garner.

Garner's team only counted alligators during the month of June to coincide with the height of the animals' breeding season.

"We usually started about 30 minutes after sunset, so we're out there on the water in the dark," said Garner.

Garner says her team counted 115 alligators each year, most of them near Wilmington. They'll estimate of the total number of gators using a mixture of landscape and weather factors.

"If we have found their population had decreased significantly, then obviously that's concerning and so we would need to figure out why and how we can protect them even further," said Garner.

But if their population has increased, Garner says the Wildlife Resources Commission may come up with a different management strategy, including alligator hunting.

"I think it's a possibility, but it's up to them to look at our research and make an informed decision," said Garner.

Garner's thesis adviser, Cobb, says as soon as her research is done, his agency can use it to figure out better places to relocate nuisance alligators.

"The more we can know about a species, the better we can respond to inquiries from the public," said Cobb.

He says they can also use the information to tell housing developers where alligators live, so they might not build so close.

He hopes Garner's research can help the state create stronger boundaries between man and animal, so alligator attacks like the one in Jacksonville don't happen again.

Garner is planning to finish her thesis by January or February. She hopes a peer review journal will publish her research.

The last alligator census took place in the early 1980s.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Probe exposes flaws behind HealthCare.gov rollout

    Probe exposes flaws behind HealthCare.gov rollout

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 9:22 PM EDT2014-07-31 01:22:44 GMT
    Management failures by the Obama administration set the stage for computer woes that paralyzed the president's new health care program last fall.
    Management failures by the Obama administration set the stage for computer woes that paralyzed the president's new health care program last fall.
  • Lawmakers earning an "F" grade this session

    Lawmakers earning an "F" grade this session

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:58 PM EDT2014-07-31 00:58:56 GMT
    A Superior Court judge has struck down parts of new rules.A Superior Court judge has struck down parts of new rules.
    A poll released this month puts lawmakers in a bad light. 
    A poll released this month puts lawmakers in a bad light. 
  • 3 people killed, 3 deputies wounded in NC shootout

    3 people killed, 3 deputies wounded in NC shootout

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 6:52 PM EDT2014-07-30 22:52:28 GMT
    Three people died and three sheriff's deputies are wounded during shootout following a domestic dispute.Three people died and three sheriff's deputies are wounded during shootout following a domestic dispute.
    North Carolina authorities say a suspect killed in a deadly shootout sprayed his father-in-law's house with bullets from two 30-round magazines after his wife ran away from him in an argument.
    North Carolina authorities say a suspect killed in a deadly shootout sprayed his father-in-law's house with bullets from two 30-round magazines after his wife ran away from him in an argument.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Probe exposes flaws behind HealthCare.gov rollout

    Probe exposes flaws behind HealthCare.gov rollout

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 9:22 PM EDT2014-07-31 01:22:44 GMT
    Management failures by the Obama administration set the stage for computer woes that paralyzed the president's new health care program last fall.
    Management failures by the Obama administration set the stage for computer woes that paralyzed the president's new health care program last fall.
  • 3 people killed, 3 deputies wounded in NC shootout

    3 people killed, 3 deputies wounded in NC shootout

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 6:52 PM EDT2014-07-30 22:52:28 GMT
    Three people died and three sheriff's deputies are wounded during shootout following a domestic dispute.Three people died and three sheriff's deputies are wounded during shootout following a domestic dispute.
    North Carolina authorities say a suspect killed in a deadly shootout sprayed his father-in-law's house with bullets from two 30-round magazines after his wife ran away from him in an argument.
    North Carolina authorities say a suspect killed in a deadly shootout sprayed his father-in-law's house with bullets from two 30-round magazines after his wife ran away from him in an argument.
  • Man found not guilty in Duke student's death

    Man found not guilty in Duke student's death

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 6:42 PM EDT2014-07-30 22:42:47 GMT
    Laurence Lovette is found not guilty in the murder of Duke graduate student, Abhijit Mahato.Laurence Lovette is found not guilty in the murder of Duke graduate student, Abhijit Mahato.
    The man serving a life sentence for the shooting death of the student body president at the University of North Carolina six years ago has been found not guilty in the death of a Duke University graduate student.
    The man serving a life sentence for the shooting death of the student body president at the University of North Carolina six years ago has been found not guilty in the death of a Duke University graduate student.
  • North CarolinaMore>>

  • Man, grandson dead after more than 90 shots fired at home

    Man, grandson dead after more than 90 shots fired at home

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 7:52 PM EDT2014-07-30 23:52:46 GMT
    Three people were killed and three Cumberland County Sheriff's deputies were injured in a shooting just outside Fayetteville.Three people were killed and three Cumberland County Sheriff's deputies were injured in a shooting just outside Fayetteville.
    Three people were killed, including the suspected gunman, when a man fired more than 90 rounds at a home just outside of Fayetteville.
    Three people were killed, including the suspected gunman, when a man fired more than 90 rounds at a home just outside of Fayetteville.
  • 3 people killed, 3 deputies wounded in NC shootout

    3 people killed, 3 deputies wounded in NC shootout

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 6:52 PM EDT2014-07-30 22:52:28 GMT
    Three people died and three sheriff's deputies are wounded during shootout following a domestic dispute.Three people died and three sheriff's deputies are wounded during shootout following a domestic dispute.
    North Carolina authorities say a suspect killed in a deadly shootout sprayed his father-in-law's house with bullets from two 30-round magazines after his wife ran away from him in an argument.
    North Carolina authorities say a suspect killed in a deadly shootout sprayed his father-in-law's house with bullets from two 30-round magazines after his wife ran away from him in an argument.
  • Man found not guilty in Duke student's death

    Man found not guilty in Duke student's death

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 6:42 PM EDT2014-07-30 22:42:47 GMT
    Laurence Lovette is found not guilty in the murder of Duke graduate student, Abhijit Mahato.Laurence Lovette is found not guilty in the murder of Duke graduate student, Abhijit Mahato.
    The man serving a life sentence for the shooting death of the student body president at the University of North Carolina six years ago has been found not guilty in the death of a Duke University graduate student.
    The man serving a life sentence for the shooting death of the student body president at the University of North Carolina six years ago has been found not guilty in the death of a Duke University graduate student.
  • Most Recent SlideshowsMore>>

  • AP PHOTOS: Coal-exporting town fights rising seas

    AP PHOTOS: Coal-exporting town fights rising seas

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 6:56 PM EDT2014-07-30 22:56:37 GMT
    Norfolk is trapped between the causes and consequences of global warming.
    Norfolk is trapped between the causes and consequences of global warming.
  • AP PHOTOS: Cambodians attend Khmer Rouge tribunal

    AP PHOTOS: Cambodians attend Khmer Rouge tribunal

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:36 AM EDT2014-07-30 12:36:41 GMT
    By The Associated Press Buddhist monks and ordinary Cambodians attended a hearing Wednesday in which a U.N.-backed tribunal prepared for the genocide trial later this year of two surviving...
    By The Associated Press Buddhist monks and ordinary Cambodians attended a hearing Wednesday in which a U.N.-backed tribunal prepared for the genocide trial later this year of two surviving leaders of the...
  • AP PHOTOS: Face of Syrian war seen in youngest

    AP PHOTOS: Face of Syrian war seen in youngest

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 4:28 AM EDT2014-07-30 08:28:08 GMT
    At Jordan's Zaatari refugee camp near the border with Syria, the horror of the neighboring country's civil war can be seen in the faces of its youngest refugees.
    At Jordan's Zaatari refugee camp near the border with Syria, the horror of the neighboring country's civil war can be seen in the faces of its youngest refugees.
Powered by WorldNow

3221 South Evans Street
Greenville N.C. 27834

Telephone: 252.355.8500
Fax: 252.355.8568
Email: newsdesk@wnct.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.