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Public Alligator hunting season applications now available online

From the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

-- Beginning May 1, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources is accepting online applications for the 2009 public alligator hunting season.

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 362 alligators during the public alligator hunting season with the average size being 9 feet 2 inches in length.

Applicants for the alligator hunting season are required to apply and pay online through the application available on the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Web site 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. 12 and run until noon on Oct. 10.

First time users of the online application system will have to create a new user account that requires creating a personal user ID and password. Be sure to write down your user ID and password using exact upper and lower case characters you chose. Your access to this site will be controlled by the accurate entry of this information at a future sign-on. Returning users will be able to sign on using their current information. A $10 nonrefundable application fee is required to apply for the hunt, and a randomized computer drawing will determine the selection of hunters.  

One thousand permits are available, and the coastal plain is divided into four alligator management units with 250 permits allocated for each unit (1,000 total). Applicants can select the option to be considered for any number (or all) of the units, but the issued permit will only allow them to hunt in one unit per season. If selected, a $100 fee for the permit and one harvest tag is required to be paid online through the same process.

Selected alligator hunters will be allowed to take one alligator on public waters or private lands where hunting rights are granted. No alligator hunting is allowed on Wildlife Management Areas (except in navigable waters), state parks, or federal properties like national wildlife refuges. Unsuccessful applicants will accumulate preference points for future alligator hunt drawings.

Only alligators 4 feet or greater in length may be taken, and the hunter must tag the animal immediately with a harvest tag provided by DNR. 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 permit-holder) must possess a valid South Carolina hunting license. All permitted hunters are required to report their harvest to the DNR whether successful or not in order to participate in any way in the following year's alligator hunt.

All hunters will be notified beginning July 1 of selection status. DNR will begin to send out permits and tags to fully paid applicants after July 15. The deadline for paying the $100 permit fee for selected applicants is Oct. 1, but you must allow the DNR five business days to deliver the permit and tag after receipt of payment. Hunters that fail to pay the $100 permit fee by the end of the alligator hunting season will not receive any preference points and will forfeit any accumulated points.

The SCDNR will conduct a series of optional seminars for those selected for the alligator season that will include vital information to conduct a safe and successful hunt. DNR will closely monitor these hunts and the harvest and regulations may be modified for future seasons.

For more information on alligators, visit the DNR Web site at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/alligator/index.html.

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