North Carolina’s expanding armadillo population


What is considered the small state mammal of Texas is now a pest in North Carolina. Armadillos have grown further north in Tar Heel State. Local private pest control contractors are on the front lines of the invasion. “It’s like hunting aliens,” says Jason Bullard, a deputy armadillo bounty hunter in the town of Saphire, North Carolina. “We don’t know anything about them. We can’t seem to kill them easily. They show up unexpectedly and their numbers have exploded.

Proof of the population explosion, Bullard compares his murders over the past two years. He killed 15 armadillos in 2020. In the first two weeks of November 2021 alone, he killed eight. Many Saphire owners have entered into a deal with Bullard that allows him to access their property at night. He also patrols local golf courses while hunting with a thermal scope and air rifle. The city pays him $ 100 for an armadillo.

While Bullard, a wild hog hunter, first received an armadillo call in 2019, the North Carolina Wildlife Commission (NCWRC) says the state’s first sighting was in 2008 and the creatures have continued to expand their range since then. The state currently allows armadillo hunting year round with no bag limits, as well as trapping during a regulated season. the The NCWRC encourages anyone handling armadillos to wear gloves, as the creatures are known to carry leprosy. The risk of transmission of the disease to humans is low but still possible.

The name “armadillo” means small armored vehicle in Spanish. Critters are known to be prolific breeders. Females usually give birth to quadruplets, which is part of the reason why their population has been able to expand its range and increase its numbers so quickly. Another reason has to do with climate change.

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According to The National Wildlife Federation, nine-banded armadillos have been moving regularly north for over 100 years. Armadillos reached Texas from Mexico in the mid-1800s. They remained in the southernmost part of the state until recently, when they were found as far north as Missouri and Nebraska. . As the warm weather spreads across the United States, so do armadillos. They have strong shells but lack insulation. If the temperature drops low enough to freeze the ground, they usually starve or freeze to death. But in places like North Carolina, temperatures haven’t dropped enough to do so in recent years.


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