South Carolina Deer Management Meeting Set for Oct. 18 in Edgefield
Coordinating with the Edgefield County legislative delegation, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has scheduled a meeting to discuss the future of deer management in South Carolina. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) headquarters located at 770 Augusta Road in Edgefield.
The meeting will focus on DNR’s recent recommendations to make changes to the state’s deer management program. DNR Wildlife Section staff as well as local legislators will discuss the recommendations with local hunters and will be available to address other deer related questions.
Results of similar meetings and surveys conducted across the state indicate that the majority of South Carolina deer hunters support making changes related to future deer management. Although DNR can make recommendations, any changes to the current deer hunting laws require action by the South Carolina General Assembly.
Perhaps the biggest issue that concerns hunters is the unregulated harvest of bucks. Although there is a 5-buck limit prescribed by law in each of the two Upstate Game Zones, these limits are not enforceable without a mandatory tagging system. In the four coastal plain Game Zones state law specifies there is "no limit" on antlered deer. This lack of an enforceable limit on bucks in the Palmetto State is in stark contrast to the approach taken in other states and to the approach taken with other fish and game species in South Carolina that typically have bag limits.
Many hunters believe this situation leads to overexploitation of bucks resulting in poor overall management. Results of the various surveys and public meetings to date have been consistent with a minimum of 70 percent of hunters supporting the concept of a reasonable limit on antlered bucks and the implementation of a tagging program that would provide for enforcement of such a limit.
Other data also supports hunters' desires to see a more conservative approach. Although there are still a few areas in the state that have high deer populations, the overall statewide population has decreased during the last 10 years resulting in an estimated 25 percent reduction. This is likely due to changes in habitat associated with forest composition and growth, urban/suburban development, and many years of extremely liberal deer harvests. Also, coyotes are a recent addition to the landscape in South Carolina and appear to be having a negative impact on deer. Deer in most areas are now well or slightly below the natural carrying capacity.