Conservationists expressed reservations Wednesday about expanding the black bear hunting season across South Carolina.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources board is expected this morning to discuss extending the bear hunting season – and conservationists worry that the plan will include sensitive parts of Horry, Georgetown and Marion counties, where the sport is now banned.
Agency officials floated the idea two years ago of bear hunting on the northern coast, saying the black bear population was growing in South Carolina and nuisance complaints were on the rise. Hunting now is allowed only in the mountains for two weeks in late October.
Nancy Cave, an official with the S.C. Coastal Conservation League, said she’s concerned about a plan to include a two-week hunting season in the three coastal counties in December. She wants to know whether the coastal bear population could withstand hunting and how such a plan might affect public nature preserves.
The Horry-Georgetown-Marion area includes the state-owned Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve and the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge.