JACKSONVILLE, N.C. - North Carolina wildlife officials are again considering whether to allow alligator hunting in the state for the first time in nearly 45 years.
The state Wildlife Resources Commission is holding six meetings in June - two years after it considered allowing hunting, but ultimately voted against it.
Hunting would only be allowed on the southeast coast and would have strict limits because it can take the reptiles 15 years to mature enough to be able to reproduce, commission spokesman said Allen Boynton said.
"What we would recommend if there really are enough alligators to support a limited hunting season is that we start where there's the most alligators and the most alligator habitat and start it slow and go from there," Boynton told The Daily News of Jacksonville.
North Carolina last allowed alligator hunting in 1973.
Two years ago, the commission rejected rules that would allow hunters to kill one alligator during the month of September.
But scientists have done more research since then, including mapping more than 300 photos of alligator sightings in North Carolina from the commission's app and emails, officials said.
The scientists have learned that alligators in North Carolina grow slower than the reptiles that live further south because the weather doesn't stay warm as long.
"By doing the science work, we'll get a little better idea of where alligators are existing," Boynton said.
The June meetings will take place in Hampstead, Dublin, Bolivia, Jacksonville, New Bern and Washington.
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