Be careful what you hunt for

Published 8:51 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In 1980, red wolves became extinct in the wild, an entire species almost wiped out completely. In 1987, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced the wolves into the wild, in a new natural habitat, the peninsula of eastern North Carolina land between the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds, most of it protected by national wildlife refuges. Now, it is thought that 100 red wolves are in existence today,
Hold on — make that 99. One was shot and killed in Tyrrell County earlier in the month.
The American alligator, the largest reptile in North America, was once nearly extinct in North Carolina. Though the reptile is still listed on the threatened list, gators have made a huge comeback in recent years. Perhaps influenced by the Reality TV show “Swamp People,” or, by fear of the large predator, some, like a North Topsail beach group of friends, believe the animals good for killing … and for eating.
They’re not the only ones. According to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, alligators are killed a few times a year.
Unfortunately, the second that kill shot is made, the tables are turned. People who kill animals on the endangered, threatened or special concerned list of protected wildlife species can face huge fines and even jail time depending on what animal they’ve killed.
The men in North Topsail face fines of several thousand dollars for their alligator. The red wolf is worth a maximum fine of $100,000 and a year in prison. Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has offered a reward of $2500 for information about the animal’s death.
With that reward, the hunter has become the hunted. Wonder what that feels like?