The deadline to apply for the Public and Wildlife Management Area (WMA) alligator seasons this year is fast approaching. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will accept online applications for this year's alligator season until 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, June 15. After this date, a randomized drawing will occur to fill the allotted permits allowing hunters to take one alligator each during the upcoming alligator hunting season.

More than 100,000 alligators live from the Midlands to the coast of South Carolina. The regulated removal of alligators will not threaten the population. Out of the 1,200 available permits, hunters took 473 alligators during last year's season. All alligator hunters must have a South Carolina Hunting License, a S.C. Department of Natural Resources Alligator Harvest Permit and an Alligator Harvest Tag in their possession while afield. All alligators taken must be tagged immediately and reported to the DNR. All applicants must be 16 or older at the time of the hunt to be eligible for an Alligator Harvest Permit; however, youth are allowed to accompany a permittee during the actual hunt. This hunting season does not allow the shooting of unsecured alligators, even on private land. The alligator must be secured using approved equipment and brought boat-side or onto land before it can be dispatched.    

Applicants for the alligator hunting season must apply and pay online. Select the "Alligator Draw Hunts" button. First-time users of this system will have to create a new user account to continue with the application process. Remember your username and password, as it can be used to conduct other online business such as applying for turkey tags or renewing a boat registration.    

All applicants for the Public Alligator Hunting Season must pay a $10 nonrefundable fee to apply. If selected, an additional $100 fee for a permit is required, and each hunter will be allowed to harvest one alligator. Unsuccessful applicants will accumulate preference points for future alligator hunt drawings. A recent change in the law requires all permitted nonresident alligator hunters and nonresident alligator assistants 16 years of age or older to pay an additional $200 nonresident alligator hunting fee. This nonresident fee is in addition to any application, permit, and license costs and is available from any license agent. 

The coastal plain region of South Carolina has been divided into four alligator management units, and permits will be issued for each unit. Applicants can select the option to be considered for 1, 2, 3, or any of the units, but the permit issued will only allow them to hunt in one unit per season. This year's season will begin at 12 p.m. (noon) on Sept. 10 and run until 12 p.m. (noon) on Oct. 8. Hunting may take place at any time of day, but most alligator hunting generally takes place during the evening. Only alligators 4 feet or greater in length may be taken. Others may assist or accompany the permitted hunter, but all participants must either be licensed South Carolina hunters or under the age of 16.  

The WMA Alligator Hunt is a new special draw hunt, in which the person selected will be permitted to take up to three assistants and have access to either portions of Bear Island WMA or Santee Coastal WMA for one hunt period (Monday at Noon to Saturday at Noon). There are four available hunt periods during the WMA alligator hunting season. All hunters and assistants must have a hunting license, WMA permit, and if a nonresident, pay the nonresident alligator hunting fee. The permit will allow the hunter to take one alligator four feet or greater in length from the selected WMA property. There is a $15 nonrefundable application fee to apply.   

The cost for the WMA Alligator Hunting Permit, if successfully selected in the computerized drawing, is $500 for residents and $800 for nonresidents. There are two available permits for each hunt period on both Bear Island WMA and Santee Coastal WMA, for a total of four hunters (plus assistants) per week, and 16 total available permits per season.   

DNR will host a series of optional seminars later this summer for those selected for the alligator season that will include vital information to conduct a safe and successful hunt. Check the DNR web site for scheduled dates and times as well as more information regarding alligator hunting. DNR will closely monitor these hunts and the harvest and regulations may be modified for future seasons.