Those gleaming red eyes in the water in the dark will have a few more flashlights shining on them this fall — applications for alligator hunting are now available online.
S.C. Department of Natural Resources will issue as many as 1,000 permits, divided equally across four coastal zones. The move opens the first harvest in years on a crocodilian species with a population of at least 100,000 that waterway residents say has become too menacing.
The controversial hunting season was spurred by reports of a large and growing number of alligators at lakes Moultrie and Marion and on the Cooper River. The problem was underscored last summer when a Summerville man lost his arm to an alligator while snorkeling in Lake Moultrie.
The season has been opposed by some who say alligators are a protected species whose wetlands habitat is being encroached on by the surging human population, and that problem alligators have been goaded or fed.
Only alligators 4 feet or longer will be allowed to be taken.
The season in South Carolina this year will run Sept. 13 through Oct. 11. Hunters will be limited to one animal and not allowed to shoot until the alligator has been securely tied off, brought alongside the boat or on land.
Permits will be distributed by random drawing and will cost $100. Only persons 16 years and older can apply. For more information, contact S.C. Natural Resources.