LUMBERTON — A 9-foot-long, 350-pound alligator was shot and killed on Sunday after it was determined to be a threat, according to Raymond Harris, the game warden for Robeson County.
The animal, which Harris estimated to be about 50 years old, is believed to have wandered onto N.C. 211 in the Allenton community from a nearby swamp in search of a mate.
A crowd of people began to gather around the alligator shortly after it was discovered. According to Harris, Robeson County Animal Control Officer Tim Mason shot the animal after deciding it posed a threat, but did not succeed in killing it.
Harris killed the alligator after receiving permission from a sheriff’s deputy to open fire on the creature a second time with a shotgun.
“An alligator on the side of the road is going to draw a curious audience,” Harris said. “We only want to shoot one if there’s no other course of action … sometimes those decisions have to be made. They are a protected species, and as such, no one is allowed to kill one except under certain circumstances.”
Harris said that alligators, though reclusive, are common in swamps across Robeson County.
“If you’ve got a lot of swamp near your house, there’s alligators living in it,” he said. “They don’t have a lot of human contact and don’t usually do a whole lot of moving. They stake out a claim. The goal is to keep them in their natural habitat so we can minimize their interaction with people because nine 0ut of 10 times, that’s going to end badly for the alligator.”
Harris advised people to call the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission at 1-800-662-7137 if they come across a stray alligator.
“They are a wild animal and can be very dangerous,” he said. “If it’s not posing any threat, leave it alone.”
Harris said wildlife officials would typically capture the alligator and relocate it.