The S.C. Department of Natural Resources will begin accepting online applications for the 2015 Public Alligator Hunting season and the Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Alligator Hunting Season at www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/alligator/index.html. The deadline to apply is June 15.
This year’s season begins on Sept. 12 at noon and will run until Oct. 10 at noon. Last year, hunters took 312 alligators during the public alligator hunting season, with the average size being 8 ½-feet long.
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 computer drawing based on a preference point system will determine the selection of hunters. Applicants can only apply and pay fees online or at one of the walk-up counters at an SCDNR Regional Office in Clemson, Florence, Columbia, or Charleston. No paper applications will be accepted.
If selected, a $100 fee for the permit and one harvest tag is required to be paid online through the same online alligator hunting application system. Unsuccessful applicants will accumulate preference points for future alligator hunt drawings. Preference points add to the likelihood of being drawn in future years. All hunters will be notified beginning in mid-July of their selection status.
Hunters participating in the Public Alligator Hunting Season may take alligators in public waters and on private land where permission is granted, but alligator hunting is prohibited on WMAs and USFWS Wildlife Refuges. In addition, public alligator season permits cannot be used on lands enrolled in the Private Lands Alligator Program.
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 noon to Saturday noon). There are four available hunt periods during the WMA season. The cost for the WMA Alligator Hunting Permit is $500 for residents and $800 for nonresidents. Two permits are available 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. In addition, there is the availability of a second WMA tag for an alligator from 4 to 7 feet in total length. The second WMA tag may be used by anyone in the hunt party provided the person to whom the tag was originally issued is present. The cost for the second WMA tag is $75, in addition to all other fees and must be purchased at the same time as the first tag. The additional WMA tag is only valid during the chosen week for the selected WMA property.
Only alligators 4 feet or longer, and the hunter must tag the animal immediately with a harvest tag provided by SCDNR. 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 must possess a valid South Carolina hunting license.
In addition to the required S.C. hunting license, application, and permit fees, all nonresident alligator hunters are required to pay an added nonresident alligator hunting fee of $200 before going afield. This fee is valid for participation in any of the alligator hunting programs. The nonresident alligator hunting fee is also required for any nonresident alligator hunting assistants 16 years of age or older.