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Lake Marion alligators

Amy and Jason Kirkland were hunting with Buck Koon on Lake Marion when all three hunters filled their gator tags on opening day in 2017.

COLUMBIA -- The S.C. Department of Natural Resources will begin May 1 accepting online applications for the 2018 Public Alligator Hunting season and the 2018 Wildlife Management Area Alligator Hunting Season.

Applications may be submitted at www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/alligator/index.html.

It is estimated that 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 351 alligators during the public alligator hunting season, with the average size being nearly nine feet in length.

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 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 a DNR Regional Office in Clemson, Florence, Columbia or Charleston. No paper applications will be accepted.

This year’s season will begin at noon on Sept. 8 and run until noon on Oct. 13. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. June 15.

If a hunter is 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 Wildlife Management Areas and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Wildlife Refuges. In addition, public alligator season permits cannot be used on lands enrolled in the Private Lands Alligator Program.

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 the SCDNR 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.

In addition to the required state 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.

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