The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Board today approved the first black bear hunting season in coastal counties in more than half a century.
The two-week season will begin Dec. 1 in Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg counties. Hunters who wish to participate will have to enter a drawing for the 30 bear tags – 10 for each county – available.
While black bears have been spotted in nearly every county in the state, the state’s two distinct populations spend most of their lives in two areas, the mountain counties and the northern coastal counties. The mountain population has been healthier through the years, and a limited hunt has been allowed in Oconee, Pickens and Greenville counties.
Improved population counts and increased human-bear confrontations along the coast convinced the natural resource agency’s experts to consider the state’s first coastal black bear hunting season since the practice was outlawed in the 1950s. Neighboring counties in North Carolina already allow a limited bear hunting season.
There is opposition to the proposed hunt, but the majority of the 22 people who attended a public hearing held on the coast in August were in favor of the proposal, said Sam Chappelear, DNR wildlife coordinator for the northern coastal region.