Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division - Fact Sheet

Street Address:
1000 Assembly Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Telephone Numbers

Mailing Address:
PO Box 167
Columbia, SC 29202

Main Purpose:
The Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries develops and implements programs that manage and conserve the wildlife and freshwater fishery resources of the state. Division programs are divided into two sections: the Wildlife Section, and the Freshwater Fisheries Section. In addition to the office at 1000 Assembly Street in Columbia, the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division also has regional offices in Clemson, Florence and Charleston.

The Wildlife Section protects, manages and enhances the state's habitats and associated wildlife for the public benefit of present and future generations.

The section is responsible for the development, operation and maintenance of the state’s Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Program, which has an objective of providing affordable public hunting and a quality outdoor experience for the citizens of South Carolina.

Through department-owned WMA lands, the section provides a long-term intensively managed habitat base for the protection, enhancement and utilization of a wide variety of wildlife species. The Wildlife Section is also responsible for the management of the state's system of Heritage Preserves, which serve to protect significant features considered the most outstanding representatives of our state's natural and cultural heritage. The section currently manages approximately 1.5 million acres of DNR owned or leased WMAs and more than 81,000 acres in 69 heritage preserves statewide.

Wildlife Section staff provide technical assistance to private landowners and public and private entities to enable them to effectively and efficiently manage, enhance and/or control wildlife on their property and to maximize the benefit of renewable resources through applied management programs. Species-specific programs are administered for deer, turkey, small game, waterfowl, furbearers, birds and reptiles (including alligators). Hunting license revenues and federal excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and other hunting equipment fund most of these programs.

The Wildlife Section is also responsible for the state's Endangered Species Program, established during the 1970s to protect and enhance a variety of declining species and diminishing habitats. The Endangered Species Program supports more than 40 different research, survey and monitoring projects as well as recovery initiatives for federal and state-listed threatened and endangered species. Revenue from both the Check for Wildlife on your state income tax form and the Bald Eagle and Loggerhead Turtle license tags supports these projects.

The Freshwater Fisheries Section has among its objectives the protection, enhancement and conservation of South Carolina’s inland aquatic resources and the provision of recreational fishing opportunities for the state's citizens. The section has five components: hatcheries, regional management operations, state public fishing lakes, research, and diadromous fisheries coordination. Section activities are directed to provide the information and services needed to maintain and improve South Carolina’s freshwater aquatic resources. All public-water fish kills are investigated, and those caused by unnatural events are pursued to recover damages suffered.

Eighteen public fishing lakes are maintained for anglers' enjoyment. Five fish hatcheries produce the species and numbers of fish necessary to maintain productive fishing opportunities and restoration of imperiled species. Access and other angling improvements are developed and maintained to enhance angler convenience and success. Essential biological data are collected, analyzed, and reported with appropriate management recommendations. Diadromous fish populations are monitored and enhanced through operation of the St. Stephen Fish Lift and fish passage at the Pinopolis Lock. Fishing license revenues and federal excise taxes on fishing equipment and motorboat fuels fund most of these activities.

The Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division also administers an Environmental Programs Office. Staff members provide review and comment on projects requiring state and federal permits for the draining or filling of wetlands, hydroelectric project relicensing, and other activities that impact natural resources and the environment.