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#06-228 August 28, 2006

Respect Wildlife Management Areas around South Carolina

Just as a few bad apples can make the whole barrel seem rotten, the few individuals who abuse South Carolina’s public hunting lands by littering, tearing down gates and other offenses can spoil the positive image of ethical sportsmen, say officials with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

“The abuse of Wildlife Management Area (WMA) lands by the public is a slap in the face to every hunter who appreciates the privilege of having access to these lands and to state natural resources officials who are doing everything in their power to keep lands in the WMA program,” said Tim Ivey, chief of wildlife with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“Every hunter with a WMA permit should remember that one is always a guest of the landowner and that one must conduct himself or herself with the courtesy of a guest who wants to get invited back,” Ivey said.

“The availability of public hunting lands as provided through the state’s WMA program has not increased greatly nor do we expect it to,” Ivey said. “These cooperating landowners—federal and state agencies, forest products companies and private landowners—have been willing to allow public hunting on their property, but are becoming less willing with every incident reported of their land being littered, their roads ruined, their gates torn down and tree seedlings trampled.

“It is often not the hunters who are damaging the property,” Ivey said. “Non-hunting use of the properties during periods other than the hunting season can be a significant problem in some areas. Since DNR only leases the hunting and fishing rights on some leased private land, the casual user is actually trespassing and is in violation of South Carolina law.”

Sportsmen and other users need to remember the WMA regulations that prohibit abuse of property:

Anyone can anonymously report acts of woodland vandalism and other violations of South Carolina’s natural resource laws by calling the Operation Game Thief at 1-800-922-5431, which is manned 24 hours a day. Valid reports that result in an arrest will bring a “no-strings-attached” cash reward to the caller.

Check the DNR Web site for detailed information on South Carolina WMA lands at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/regs/pdf/wmas.pdf or by writing: WMA Regulations, PO Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202; or by calling (803) 734-3886 in Columbia. Check the DNR Web site at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/managed/index.html for a listing and additional information on managed lands.          
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