** Archived Article - please check for current information. **
May 2, 2011
2011 public alligator hunting, special WMA alligator season applications available online
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently accepting online applications for the 2011 Public Alligator Hunting season and the newly created special Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Alligator Hunt.
New for this year, the DNR Board approved the creation of a separate, computer-drawn lottery hunt for alligators on select Lowcountry WMA properties located in the Southern Coastal and Middle Coastal alligator management units.
More than 100,000 alligators live from the Midlands to the coast of South Carolina and the population is not threatened by the regulated removal of a relatively small number of alligators. Last year, hunters took 471 alligators during the public alligator hunting season with the average size being 9'2" in length.
Applicants for the alligator hunting seasons are required to apply and pay online through the application available on the DNR’s website or at one of the walk-up counters at a DNR Regional Office in Clemson, Florence, Columbia, or Charleston. No paper applications will be accepted. This year’s season will begin at 12 p.m. (noon) on Sept. 10 and run until 12 p.m. (noon) on Oct. 8. The deadline for applying is June 15th.
First time users of the online application system will have to create a new user account that requires creating a personal user ID and password. Be sure to write down your user ID and password using exact upper and lower case characters you chose. Your access to this site will be controlled by the accurate entry of this information at a future sign-on. Returning users will be able to sign on using their current information. A $10 nonrefundable application fee is required to apply for the Public Lands Hunt and a $15 nonrefundable application fee is charged to apply for the WMA Alligator Hunt. A randomized computer drawing will determine the selection of hunters.
One thousand, two hundred permits are available for the Public Lands Alligator Hunt and the coastal plain is divided into four alligator management units with 300 permits allocated for each unit (1200 total). Applicants can select the option to be considered for any number (or all) of the units, but the issued permit will only allow them to hunt in one unit per season. If selected, a $100 fee for the permit and one harvest tag is required to be paid online through the same application process. Unsuccessful applicants will accumulate preference points for future alligator hunt drawings.
Selected alligator hunters will be allowed to take one alligator on public waters or private lands where hunting rights are granted. No alligator hunting is allowed on Wildlife Management Areas (except in navigable waters), state parks, or federal properties like National Wildlife Refuges.
The WMA Alligator Hunt is a special draw hunt, in which the person selected will be permitted to take up to three assistants and have access to either portions of Bear Island WMA or Santee Coastal WMA for one hunt period (Monday at Noon to Saturday at Noon). There are four available hunt periods during the WMA alligator hunting season. All hunters must have a hunting license, WMA permit, and if a nonresident, pay the nonresident alligator hunting fee. The permit will allow the hunter to take one alligator four feet or greater in length from the selected WMA property.
The cost for the WMA Alligator Hunting Permit, if successfully selected in the computerized drawing, is $500 for residents and $800 for nonresidents. There are two available permits for each hunt period on both Bear Island WMA and Santee Coastal WMA, for a total of four hunters (plus assistants) per week, and 16 total available permits per season.
Only alligators four feet or greater in length may be taken and the hunter must tag the animal immediately with a harvest tag provided by DNR for any of the alligator hunting programs. This hunting season does not allow the shooting of unsecured alligators, even on private land. All alligators must be secured using approved equipment and brought boat-side or onto land before they can be dispatched. While others may assist the permitted hunter, all participants (including permittee) must possess a valid South Carolina hunting license. All selected hunters and participants in the WMA Alligator Hunts must also possess a Wildlife Management Area permit.
All nonresident alligator hunters are required to pay an additional nonresident alligator hunting fee of $200 before going afield. This fee is in addition to the required S.C. hunting license, application, and permit fee. This fee is valid for participation in any of the alligator hunting programs.
This fee is required of any permitted nonresident alligator hunter, as well as nonresident alligator hunting assistants 16 years of age or older. An alligator hunting assistant is defined as any member of an alligator hunting party who tries to find, seek, obtain, pursue, or diligently search for alligators (i.e. everyone in the boat 16 or older).
All permitted hunters are required to report their harvest to the DNR whether an alligator was taken or not in order to participate in any way in the following year’s alligator hunt.
All hunters will be notified beginning in July of selection status. DNR will begin to send out permits and tags to fully paid applicants after Aug. 1st. This deadline for paying the $100 permit fee for selected applicants in the Public Lands Alligator Season is the opening day of the season (Sept. 10). The deadline for paying the permit fee for the WMA Alligator Season is Aug. 25, but regardless of the hunting program you must allow DNR five business days to deliver the permit and tag after receipt of payment. Hunters that fail to pay the required permit fee will not receive any preference points and will forfeit any accumulated points.
While the hunters selected for the WMA Alligator Hunt can only hunt on the designated WMA during their designated hunt period, the WMA alligator permit does allow the hunter to hunt alligators in the Alligator Management Unit in which the WMA is located. Thus, WMA permit holders for Santee Coastal Reserve can also hunt in the Middle Coastal Unit and the WMA permit holders for Bear Island can also hunt in the Southern Coastal Alligator Management Unit.
DNR will conduct a series of optional seminars for those selected for the alligator season that will include vital information on how to conduct a safe and successful hunt. DNR will closely monitor these hunts and the harvest and regulations may be modified for future seasons.
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