The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has suspended hunting in some of the areas flooded by Hurricane Florence.
“It’s not something we do frequently,” Big Game Program Coordinator Charles Ruth said. “But we’ve done it three times in the last three years, which is remarkable.”
The temporary 10-day closure covers the Pee Dee and Waccamaw river drainage systems and covers all species except, alligators, doves, teal, and Canada geese. The regulations also do not cover species considered non-native pests such as hogs and coyotes.
Ruth said the closure is meant to protect animals not familiar with their new terrain. “It’s an ethical-type thing,” he said. “It’s a preservation of game issue.”
Ruth said as the floodwaters rise, ground animals will seek higher ground, which can be limited in river swamps.
“They can, obviously, be very vulnerable to hunters,” he said. “They’re outside of their normal areas that they’re familiar with and they don’t have their escape routes. And they can be piled on top of each other, presenting some more vulnerability than normal.”
Ruth said based on past experience, wild animals are self-sufficient when it comes to their survival in a disaster.
“These animals tend to get along with it okay,” he said. “They move out as the water comes up and then they immediately move back into their familiar areas as the water goes down.”
DNR said there has been little evidence of mass mortality in wild animals during recent South Carolina disasters. Ruth said biologists will often find individual animals which did not survive, but rarely any massive die-offs.
Due to flooding, the SCDNR also closed vehicle access in the following properties in the Pee Dee region:
Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve/WMA
Waccamaw River Heritage Preserve/WMA
Little Pee Dee River Heritage Preserve/WMA
Great Pee Dee Heritage Preserve/WMA
Segars-McKinnon Heritage Preserve
Woodbury WMA will close to public access on Friday.