Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries
The core mission of the SCDNR’s Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division is to protect, manage, and sustain the public enjoyment of natural resources through programs that support hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, and other forms of outdoor recreation. The Division develops and implements programs that manage and conserve the wildlife and freshwater fishery resources of the state. Division programs are divided among two sections: Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. The main offices are located at 1000 Assembly Street in Columbia, with regional offices in Clemson, Florence and Charleston.
The Wildlife Section protects, conserves and enhances the state’s wildlife species and their habitats for the public benefit of present and future generations and ensures the best possible hunting and viewing opportunities for the public. The section is responsible for the development, operation and maintenance of the state’s Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Program, which has an objective of providing affordable public hunting and a quality outdoor experience for the citizens of South Carolina. Through department owned and leased WMA lands and Natural Area Heritage Preserves, the section provides a long-term intensively managed habitat base for the protection, enhancement and utilization of a wide variety of wildlife species.
Wildlife Section staff also provide technical assistance to private landowners and public and private entities to effectively and efficiently manage, enhance and/or control wildlife on their property and to maximize the benefit of renewable resources through applied management programs. Species-specific programs are administered for deer, turkey, small game, waterfowl, nongame birds, furbearers and reptiles and amphibians, including sea turtles and alligators. Wetland and wildlife habitat protection initiatives, such as the ACE Basin, Winyah Bay, South Low Country and Congaree-Wateree Focus Areas, are coordinated by the section, as well as cooperative projects among government, public and private entities.
The section supports and administers research, survey and monitoring projects, as well as recovery initiatives for federal and state-listed threatened and endangered species. Both rare species and species of concern are monitored periodically for indicators of degradation. Field biologists work with other scientists, industries, schools, environmental groups and private landowners in decisions relative to conservation of these species. Revenue from both the Check for Wildlife on the state income tax forms and the Wildlife Conservation license plates is used to match federal funds to help support these projects.
The Freshwater Fisheries Section has among its objectives the protection, enhancement and conservation of South Carolina’s inland aquatic resources and the provision of recreational fishing opportunities for the state’s citizens. The section has five components: hatcheries, regional operations, state public fishing lakes, research and diadromous fisheries. Section activities are directed to provide the information and services needed to maintain and improve South Carolina’s freshwater fishery resources. All public water fish kills are investigated and those caused by unnatural events are pursued to recover suffered damages.
Seventeen public fishing lakes are maintained for anglers’ enjoyment. Five fish hatcheries produce the species and numbers of fish necessary to maintain productive fishing opportunities and restoration of imperiled species. Access and other angling improvements are developed and maintained to enhance angler convenience and success. Essential biological data are collected, analyzed and reported with appropriate management recommendations. Diadromous fish populations are monitored and enhanced through operation of the St. Stephen Fish Lift and fish passage at the Pinopolis Lock.
As of January 2010, no state appropriated funds are used in the operation of the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. The majority of funding for this division comes from federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment through the Sport Fish (Dingell Johnson Act) and Wildlife Restoration Program (Pittman Robertson Act), with required matching funds drawn from revenues generated through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and other permits. Other revenues such as proceeds from the sales of timber on DNR properties are earmarked to help support the management of the properties.
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Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries (WFF): WFF FY 2009-10 – Highlights
- Produced over 7.7 million fish of 12 different species for stocking in public waters.
- Provided quality public outdoor recreation opportunities on more than 1 million acres of land in the Wildlife Management Area (WMA) program.
- Through the Draw Hunt Program, conducted more than 160 separate hunts for deer, turkey, waterfowl, and quail.
- Provided special hunting opportunities for over 1,100 youth and over 150 mobility impaired sportsmen.
- Significantly improved the habitats of all wildlife species on many of the Heritage Preserves.
- Researched, monitored, and surveyed a broad range of native wildlife species, including game, nongame, and endangered vertebrates.
- Acquired additional property for habitat protection and public recreation in Newberry County.
- Surveyed and inventoried approximately 154 lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and streams.