The City of North Carolina is Surrounded by Armadillos

This story is original appeared in The Keeper and part of Climate Table collaboration.

In the pitch dark, Jason Bullard nimbly shouldered his rifle and flattened it on the object. “That sounds like one!” he moaned. It turned out to be a fuse box. The other candidate, once again pointed at the gun, revealed himself to be a rock.

In this town surrounded by armadillos, anything with a similar resemblance to the armored nemesis is suspected.

Bullard, a kind man in a camouflaged shirt, with a loud voice and a strange beard, quickly disappeared from never seeing an armadillo in his bucolic west corner. North Carolina to kill 15 of them last year. In the past two weeks, eight of the animals he has sent.

The homeowners, concerned about their yards being torn apart by newly arrived mammals, initially deputized Bullard as some sort of armadillo bounty hunter, giving him $ 100 for each dead body. body he made. But the armadillos caused so much horticultural damage that many people in and around Sapphire, North Carolina now have Bullard on a retainer, allowing him to roam their properties at night, armed, in hopes of shooting the culprits.

The task is learned immediately on the job. The standard .22 rifles Bullard used in the first armadillos never seemed to kill them. One of the creatures flew in a strange, kangaroo-like leap, leaving an astonished Bullard flying. Armadillos give off a kind of loamy gray color at night, a shiny light that is absorbed into their bodies, rather than visible to their eyes.

“It’s like hunting aliens,” said Bullard, who is more accustomed to hunting wild boar. “We don’t know anything about them. We don’t seem to be able to kill them easily. They appear unexpected. And their numbers have just exploded.

To find armadillos in North Carolina, at first, it was not appropriate. The creature has been a mammal in the state of Texas for more than two decades, used to heat dry, flat states. There, they are often seen as roadkill or at small racing events where they are run on a 40-foot track.

Armadillo meat was used in Central America, and to a lesser extent in the U.S., where it was called “poor man’s pork” during the Texas Depression and was contaminated in connection with the leprosy species.

Sapphire, on the other hand, is located 800 miles and worlds away in the high Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s part of a flat landscape with plenty of rain that turns into a moderate rainforest, with soil and rocks wrapped in lush mosses between tall fir and spruce. In the fall, the place is a beautiful riot of red and orange fall colors. The area has even a small ski resort.

When the first armadillo was spotted here in 2019, Bullard received a call. “I just don’t believe it,” he said. “I think the woman had a possum and a drinking problem.” But within a year, Bullard spent his nights at the local golf course, speeding from hole to hole in a golf cart, killing armadillos with vegetables like a kind of cross between of Tiger Woods and Davy Crockett.

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