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NC Wildlife Officials Want Your Alligator Photos

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iNaturalist.org
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NC Alligators project on iNaturalist.org

Wildlife officials in North Carolina are doing something new to track alligators. They're asking you to snap a photo of a gator on your phone when you see one and then post it to a website that will record on a map where the photo was taken.

"This way we can see exactly where the alligator is," says Allen Boynton of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. He says the alligators are found where the water is warmer.   

Through the photos, Boynton says the state wants to get a better idea of where the animals and humans interact so it can better focus its alligator education and safety efforts. "And then also we wanted to be able to answer questions people had about alligators," says Boynton. "So this offers a way to interact with people who have alligators in their neighborhood."

Boynton says alligators have been in North Carolina for at least 7 million years, and that the population is under 10,000. For comparison, Florida he says has an estimated one million gators.

Now since the wildlife commission began the project in early April it's gotten about 120 gator
photos. Boynton says he's not concerned the quest to get a good photo will prompt people to get too close.

"I think most people have common sense to stay away from alligators," says Boynton. "But most people don't realize how quickly alligators can move. You shouldn't get so close to them. They're an ambush predator. And in the ecosystem that they live in, they are the top predator. Not you."