Deer hunters request changes to state’s deer management approach
South Carolina deer hunters are asking for changes to the state’s deer management approach based on public opinion data gathered by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Much of the discussion among hunters is related to concern over the unregulated harvest of antlered bucks, and an estimated 25 percent decline in the State’s deer population over the last 10 years according to DNR biologists. Currently there is no enforceable limit on the number of bucks a hunter can take during the season.
Public meetings, mail surveys, and more recently telephone and internet based surveys of the state’s deer hunters indicate that a minimum of 70 percent of hunters support the concept of a reasonable limit on antlered bucks and the implementation of a tagging program that would provide for enforcement of such a limit.
Additionally, a minimum of 70 percent of hunters indicate that they would support paying a modest fee to implement such a tagging program as long as the fee was used to administer the program and for deer research and management. A complete summary of DNR’s efforts to document public opinion on future deer management can be found online.
DNR’s governing board has discussed this issue on numerous occasions this year, and at the Dec. 17, 2010 DNR Board meeting voted to support a statewide limit of 4 bucks per hunter per year, and a mandatory deer tagging program whereby all harvested deer (bucks and does) must be tagged at the point of kill with tags provided by the department. A nominal fee of $5 per tag for residents and $25 per tag for nonresidents is proposed.
Although DNR can make recommendations, any changes to the current deer hunting laws require action by the South Carolina General Assembly. The DNR Board proposal will be incorporated into the DNR’s Legislative Proposal for the 2011-12 session.