CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Alligators are commonly found in ponds and marshes across the Lowcountry, but recently they’ve been spotted in neighborhoods and even along busy roads.
Now, state leaders, environmentalists and hunters are working together to keep gators off the streets and in nature.
Some say hunting the reptile is an effective way to keep alligators out of populated areas, but not everyone is allowed to hunt them.
To participate in alligator hunting season, you must be selected from a permit lottery, which opens June 1.
Officials say people from across the country will throw their name in for a chance to hunt gators in the Palmetto state.
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources alligator program coordinator Jay Butfiloski says he’s expecting more than 8,000 applicants, but the state will only hand out 1,000 alligator hunting permits.
“Providing as much opportunity as we can, but not so much that it starts to severely impact the population,” Butfiloski says.
Butfiloski says the number of 1,000 is based on the estimated alligator population in the state and the harvest trends over time.
However, he says the majority of the hunters who get a permit won’t be successful.
Alligator advocate Tonya Bonitatibus says she has no problem with gator hunting.
“The way that we manage our resources now, and the regular interactions with humans and wildlife, the hunting program is not necessarily bad. In fact, it’s relatively good right now to keep the population in check,” Bonitatibus says.
However, she says it’s important to manage the state’s hunting program alongside the removal of nuisance gators.
Lowcountry alligator hunter Bradley Taylor agrees that hunting is a great way to keep the population of animals in check, however alligators somewhat self-regulate because they are cannibalistic.
“That being said, the more we develop we’re encroaching on their habitat. And a lot of these animals are forced into places where more and more people live. So, we have to cut back some on that population for expansion of the human population,” Taylor said.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources says there are approximately 900 to 1,000 alligators removed from the state per year when all removal types are totaled together. Including nuisance removal, public lands hunting and private lands hunting. They say 300 of those were removed as a part of the state’s nuisance removal program.
Those who are interested can apply for the alligator lottery between June 1 and July 15.
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