Deer Hunting Limit Urged In S.C.

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Deer Hunting Limit Urged In S.C.

Post  Carolina Kat on Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:45 am

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010 / Updated: Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010 11:02 AM

Deer hunting limit urged
Four-buck limit, tagging system will be recommended to the Legislature


COLUMBIA -- The S.C. Department of Natural Resources, hoping to keep the state’s deer population healthy, wants to set limits on the number of deer a hunter can kill each year.

The agency’s advisory board voted Friday to support a four-buck annual limit and set up a mandatory deer tagging system to help keep track of the number killed. Both moves would be major changes in the way the state manages its deer population and deer hunting.

In South Carolina, the Department of Natural Resources Board recommends changes in hunting regulations, but only the state Legislature can make the changes. The DNR will include the proposed deer hunting changes with its other legislative proposals in January.

A white-tailed deer buck is shown in this file photograph. SCDNR proposes a four-buck annual limit for future hunting seasons. The State

Studies indicate the deer population has dropped from about 1 million to 750,000 in the past decade, according to DNR biologist Charles Ruth. Hunters are concerned about the overall health of the deer population if the numbers continue to drop.

One factor in the population drop is the lack of limits in the number of deer that hunters can kill each year in most of the state. Portions of the Upstate have a five-buck season limit, but that limit is difficult to enforce because there’s no reliable method for tracking kills. The rest of the state has no limit.

Mail, phone and Internet surveys and public meetings in the past few years indicate overwhelming support for deer bag limits. A minimum of 70 percent of hunters, and in some surveys a much higher percentage, backed a reasonable annual limit and a tagging system that helps enforcement.

Under the tagging system, hunters would buy tags — $5 for state residents, $25 for nonresidents — that have to be attached to deer when they are killed. The recommendations call for all of the money collected for tags to be used to administer the program and manage the deer population.

The vast majority of hunters kill five or fewer deer in a season, but a few hunters kill much more than five each year, according to the DNR surveys.

A healthy deer population is important to South Carolina. A 2001 report found deer hunting had a $190 million economic impact in the state.

Carolina Kat

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