COLUMBIA - Picking up those South Carolina-sourced alligator shoes and meat got one step closer to reality on Wednesday.
The Senate's Fish, Game and Forestry Committee unanimously moved along a bill, S.714, for consideration by the full Senate that would allow for the industry and set up rules and regulations to govern it. Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, also offered an amendment to deal with concerns raised by the S.C. Wildlife Federation that the standards governing the new industry did not have strict enough environmental regulations, among other issues.
Hutto's amendment deals with those concerns, he said, and allows the Department of Natural Resources to inspect alligator farms. Senators debated allowing farmers to take in gators that show up on private property - such as golf courses - to be farmed instead of simply put down. In the end, the Wildlife Federation was concerned about mixing domestic and wild alligators, and that proposal was killed.
If the bill is passed, the Department of Natural Resources would begin writing extensive regulations that govern everything from fencing to environmental controls. "You're not going to see an alligator farm (in) 2014," Hutto said.