It's time for South Carolina sportsmen and sportswomen to renew their annual hunting and fishing licenses for the 2005-2006 season. Last season's licenses expire officially on June 30.
The prices of most hunting and fishing licenses for the upcoming 2005-2006 South Carolina hunting season remain the same as last season. The Commercial Fur Harvest License has been increased from $10 to $25 annually for residents and from $100 to $200 for nonresidents. A new $9 Senior Statewide Hunting and Fishing Lifetime License will replace the old gratis license, which was free for state residents age 65 and above, but residents born on or before July 1, 1940 can still obtain the free gratis license. The new $9 senior license will afford expanded benefits for 64-year-old residents, compared to last season's license for 64 year olds.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sells hunting and fishing licenses at its Columbia headquarters in the Rembert Dennis Building at 1000 Assembly St., DNR field offices statewide and through many retail businesses across the state. Licenses for the upcoming 2005-2006 season went on sale June 16 and are valid immediately after purchase.
Perhaps of greatest interest among the public are the changes in hunting and fishing licenses for senior residents. Residents born on or before July 1, 1940 will still be able to obtain the gratis license, free of charge. State residents born after July 1, 1940 will need to purchase the new $9 Senior Statewide Hunting and Fishing lifetime License. The new senior lifetime license, for residents age 64 and above, includes privileges that cover not only hunting and fishing licenses and big game permit, but also the Wildlife Management Area permit (a $30.50 annual permit), the state duck stamp (a $5.50 annual stamp), and the Saltwater Marine Recreational Fisheries License (a $10 annual license).
New changes in state furbearer trapping regulations have increased the Commercial Fur Harvest License from $10 to $25 annually for residents and from $100 to $200 for nonresidents, and eliminated the fur-tagging requirement. Federally-required tagging of all CITES listed species (bobcat and otter) when destined for export out of the U.S. will now be issued at no cost, but a $3 processing fee will be charged. Trap sizes have been standardized. The new law allows enclosed foothold traps such as the "Duffer," "egg," "coon-cuff" and similarly designed dog-proof style traps for raccoons. Snares are now legal, but only in water sets. A commercial fur licensee who only processes firs, hides or pelts taken by him is not required to have a processor's license.
Also new this year are the following changes in fishing regulations: When a person is non-commercial jug fishing for catfish, a jug permit is not required for a resident assisting the jug permit holder. Harvest restrictions have been removed for striped and hybrid bass hybrids in the Savannah River system and limits have been set. In effect now are daily creel and size limits of two fish with a 27-inch minimum length on striped bass, striped bass hybrids, white bass or any combination of these species. The area covered by the new limits includes the Savannah River and its tributaries and distributaries and lands immediately adjacent to them from Thurmond Lake Dam downstream to the mouth of the Savannah River (see regulations for exact coordinates).
New hunting regulations changes this season make it unlawful for a person to take or attempt to take a wild turkey from a watercraft. Turkey check stations have been eliminated. On private lands statewide Sunday hunting of wild turkey will be legal beginning with the spring 2006 turkey season. It will be illegal to hunt waterfowl within 200 yards of a residence in Calhoun County on Lake Marion without written permission of the owner and occupant. The area of Lake Marion includes the public waters in Calhoun County from the confluence of the Congaree and Wateree rivers downstream to Poplar Creek.
South Carolina hunting and fishing licenses expire June 30 of each year. Licenses for the 2005-2006 season may be purchased from about 1,000 retail stores in South Carolina or from most S.C. Department of Natural Resources offices. Licenses are also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1-888-434-7472 or on the Internet by visiting the DNR Web site at http://www.dnr.state.sc.us. (A convenience fee of $3.95 will apply.)
"The new law passed this year to create the $9 senior hunting and fishing lifetime license will help provide needed funds for the management of natural resources in South Carolina," said McTeer. "Many sportsmen do not realize that a majority of the funds used to manage fish and wildlife in South Carolina come from Federal dollars apportioned to states based on the number of paid license holders."
McTeer said, "For many years, South Carolina has been losing a substantial amount of federal dollars when sportsmen were issued a free 'gratis 65-year-old license,' because funds are based on the number of 'paid' license holders. Unfortunately, gratis license holders have not counted within the total of hunters and fishermen, causing the state to miss out on federal dollars earmarked for fish and wildlife conservation. The new $9 senior lifetime hunting and fishing license will count for Federal funds apportionment.
"Sportsmen age 64 who buy the new senior lifetime license for state residents this year will benefit substantially, compared to the more expensive combination or sportsman's license," McTeer said. "And South Carolina can receive more Federal dollars to use for wildlife conservation in the Palmetto State because our senior hunters and fishermen will now be counted officially in Federal funds apportionment."
Residents and nonresidents age 16 and older must purchase the required licenses to hunt and fish in South Carolina. Anyone born after June 30, 1979, must complete a hunter education course to purchase a hunting license. Residents 64 years or older may purchase a Senior Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License for only $9. Applications for Lifetime, Gratis and Disability licenses will be printed in the 2005-2006 "Rules and Regulations" booklet available in August, or individuals may call (803) 734-3838 in Columbia to obtain an application. For questions regarding hunting and fishing licenses call (803) 734-3838 in Columbia.
"We encourage people to pick up the new regulations locally from license sales agents at retail stores and DNR field offices statewide beginning the first week of August to save the state mailing and other handling expenses," McTeer said. Sportsmen will also be able to access the rules and regulations on the Internet by visiting the DNR Web site at http:\\www.dnr.state.sc.us and go to "Select A Popular Topic," then "Rules and Regulations." If copies of the booklet are not available from other sources write to: Regulations, PO Box 167, Columbia, S.C. 29202; or call (803) 734-3886 in Columbia.