The S.C. Department of Natural Resources on Thursday recommended a two-week black bear hunting season in three Pee Dee counties where bears haven’t been legally hunted for more than half a century.
But before the Natural Resources Board decides whether to accept the proposal from the agency’s staff, the details will be posted on the DNR web site and public comments allowed for a month. Some conservation groups oppose the change, claiming the coastal bear population is too small to handle hunting pressure.
A three-year study recently completed by a University of Tennessee researcher estimated the coastal bear population in South Carolina is 500, large enough to remain stable with a hunting loss of 30 per year, said Breck Carmichael, a deputy director for DNR.
The agency recommended issuing limited tags allowing hunters to take 10 bears each in Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg counties during a two-week season in December. While hunts of the state’s mountain population of black bears have been allowed for years, bear hunting has been outlawed in coastal areas since the 1950s.
The change has been prompted by the growth in black bear population in coastal areas. North Carolina already has a limited bear hunting season in its coastal counties.