As the Program Coordinator for Furbearers and Alligators for the SCDNR, Butfilowski is a busy man each fall and winter when gator hunting and furbearer seasons commence. “The inaugural alligator season in S.C. was 2010, and we have made very little changes to the hunt since then,” said Butfilowski. “We began in 2010 by issuing 1200 harvest tags, but that number has been reduced to 1000 tags for several seasons and that number won’t change in 2017. Specifically, that is 250 harvest permits per each alligator management unit.”
Alligator Drew Hunts generate funds with a $10 non-refundable application fee and then a $100 permit fee for those selected. Non-resident hunters must pay an additional $200 fee, and purchase the proper non-resident hunting license too. Only about 80-percent of drawn hunters go on to purchase their alligator harvest tag, which makes it legal to harvest one alligator, four-feet in length or greater. Most hunters are looking for a gator much longer than four feet, but occasionally a smaller gator is preferred for table fare.
The economics of alligator hunting season in S.C. goes beyond SCDNR revenues, since venison processors and taxidermists have become accustomed to increased traffic during gator season. Alligator meat can be processed for customers, but not sold. Alligator hides and parts may be sold according to regulations, so hunters have the option of getting a custom belt or some other accessory to celebrate their trophy gator harvest. Since demand for alligator harvest permits remains high, and the alligator population remains sustainable, the alligator hunting season in S.C. is likely to remain a success story for SCDNR and the economy for the next ten years.
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