Alligator hunting is becoming increasingly popular and the Department of Natural Resources is keeping a close eye on the growth of the sport in the state.
The 2011 alligator hunting season is September 10 through October 8. However, this Wednesday, June 15 is the deadline to apply for a permit to hunt alligators in the state of South Carolina.
Brett Witt, spokesman for the SC Department of Natural Resources, says 1200 permits will be issued. Last year there were 473 alligators harvested from 1200 permits.
We’re seeing what’s going to happen. Five, ten years from now we may end up opening that up a little bit. Right now we’re just putting together the data and trying to figure out where we’re going to go from here.
The harvesting of alligators are controlled by regulations and instructions are written on the permits. Witt says hunters are not allowed to shoot free-swimming or basking alligators.
If you have folks out basically taking a pot shot at an alligator, what they typically will do, if you hit one of them, they will submerge immediately and there’s no guarantee that the next alligator you will see is the one you in fact actually shot. And not only that, believe it or not, alligator hide is relatively thick, you can certainly fire onto it and …it can actually ricochet off of them, and that’s not something we like to see happen.
Last year was the first for the state in regulating a hunting season for alligators. Witt says next year’s tag allotment may be more or less depending on harvest and population.
The amount of gators that are going to come out of the population, and it’s about 100,000, somewhere in that vicinity, is relatively small. So, we’re not going to see a huge difference as far as the alligators population in the state of South Carolina.
The revenue from application and permit fees are put towards a study that stays with the state’s alligator project.
Witt reminds everyone that it is illegal to harass or feed alligators, “and the reason why we say that is we try to make sure alligators do not associate people with food. We typically think that’s a bad idea.”
Alligator meat from the kill may be kept but not sold. Hides and parts may be sold according to regulations