The nine-banded armadillo is a fixture in states like Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Growing up in Oklahoma, I saw countless armadillos. After my second summer in the great state of Tennessee, I noticed that I hadn’t seen a single armadillo, living or dead (with or without a beer can). I commented on it to some native Tennesseans, and they looked at me like I had three heads. Apparently, the leprosy-carrying tank rats didn’t typically make it this far north or east. However, that’s changed in recent years. Now, they’re invading North Carolina, and their numbers are exploding. But, folks like Jason Bullar, an armadillo bounty hunter, are evening the odds.
Bullard is a pest control specialist in Sapphire, North Carolina. However, the pests he removes are usually a bit bigger. Bullard usually hunts feral hogs. Now, the hunter collects bounty payments of $100 per armadillo, according to Field & Stream.
The bounty hunter compares the armadillo invasion to an extraterrestrial one. “It’s like hunting aliens,” he said of his current gig. “We know nothing about them. We can’t seem to kill them easily. They show up unexpectedly, and their numbers have just exploded.” To be fair, that sounds like the plot of most alien invasion movies.
Bullard received his first call about an armadillo in 2019. Since then, the bounty hunter has watched the armadillo population explode. One way he tracks their population growth is through counting his kills. In 2020, Bullard said he killed a total of 15 of them. In the first two weeks of this November, he killed eight. Back home, you could do that in a pickup truck on the way to work. However, in North Carolina, those numbers are cause for concern. A quickly-multiplying invasive species is bad for the entire ecosystem.
A Night in the Life of an Armadillo Bounty Hunter
The city pays Bullard $100 for each armadillo carcass. Additionally, he’s made a deal with several Sapphire, NC homeowners. They allow him on their property at night, and he hunts the armored nocturnal pests. Additionally, Bullard patrols local golf courses for the critters.
Honestly, being an armadillo bounty hunter sounds like the perfect side gig. Bullard gets to spend his evenings in the outdoors, hunting with a high-powered air rifle equipped with a thermal scope.
Not every town in North Carolina offers bounties on the pests. However, the Tar Heel State offers year-round armadillo hunting with no bag limit. Additionally, they allow trapping within a regulated season.
If you happen to come across and kill an armadillo, be careful when handling the carcass. They’re known to carry leprosy. Admittedly, the risk of transmission from animals to humans is low, but it’s still possible. No bounty payment is worth the horrors of leprosy.