Bear Protection Regulations and Penalties in South Carolina

Prohibition of Commercial Activities Involving Bears

In an effort to protect the bear population, South Carolina has implemented strict laws governing the handling of bears and their parts. It is illegal to engage in any commercial activity involving bears, which includes:

  • Buying, selling, bartering, or exchanging a bear or any bear parts.
  • Attempting to buy, sell, barter, or exchange a bear or bear parts.

This comprehensive prohibition is aimed at deterring any form of trade that could endanger the bear population.

Restrictions on Transportation

The transportation of freshly killed bears or bear parts is also regulated. Such transportation is only lawful during the designated bear hunting season. This regulation helps to ensure that bear hunting is conducted in a controlled and legal manner, aligning with the state's wildlife conservation goals.

Legal Penalties for Violations

Violating these regulations carries significant legal consequences. Individuals found guilty of these offenses may face:

  • A fine of up to $2,500.
  • Imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years.
  • Both of the above penalties.
  • Additionally, hunting and fishing privileges will be suspended for three years.

These penalties underscore the seriousness with which South Carolina views the protection of its bear population.

Hunting Regulations

Hunting bears in South Carolina is subject to specific rules to ensure ethical practices:

  • It is illegal to feed bears.
  • Hunting bears with the aid of bait is prohibited.

These rules are codified in regulations 50-11-430, 50-11-440, 50-1-130, and 50-1-125. They are designed to maintain natural bear behaviors and prevent undue stress or harm to these animals.

Exception in Game Zone 4

It is important to note that there is an exception under the regulations for Game Zone 4. Hunters and individuals involved in bear-related activities should familiarize themselves with the specific rules and exceptions applicable to this zone.

Bear Hunting Tag Requirements in South Carolina

Obtaining Bear Tags

In South Carolina, anyone wishing to hunt bears must adhere to specific licensing and tagging regulations. These are essential for managing bear populations and ensuring responsible hunting practices. The requirements for obtaining a bear tag include:

  1. Mandatory Licenses: All hunters must possess a valid hunting license and a Big Game Permit. These are foundational requirements for hunting any big game, including bears.

  2. Bear Tag Issuance and Costs:

    • Residents: A bear tag can be obtained for a fee of $25.
    • Nonresidents: Nonresident hunters are required to pay $100 for a bear tag.
    • Youth Hunters: Hunters under the age of 16 are eligible for a youth bear tag at no cost. This initiative supports youth participation in hunting while emphasizing regulated and ethical practices.

Locations for Acquiring Tags

Bear tags are conveniently available at various South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) offices, including locations in Aynor, Charleston, Clemson, Florence, York, and the SCDNR office at the Market in West Columbia. This broad availability facilitates easy access for hunters across the state.

Online and Mail-in Applications

For added convenience, tags can also be ordered online through the portal GoOutdoorsSouthCarolina.com. This digital option provides an efficient and accessible way for hunters to comply with tagging regulations.

Additionally, a handwritten application form is available. This can be downloaded from the SCDNR website or directly from the link: Special License Application PDF. This option caters to those who prefer or require a physical application process.

Regulations on Tag Use

Once a bear tag is issued, it is strictly personal and non-transferable. The rules regarding the use of bear tags are clear:

  • Tags must be used only by the individual to whom they are issued.
  • Upon successfully hunting a bear, the tag must be immediately attached to the bear before it is moved from the point of kill. This is a crucial step in ensuring legal and ethical hunting practices.

Bear Hunting Seasons on Private Lands in South Carolina

Game Zone 1

Still Hunt (No Dogs)

  • Dates: October 17-23.
  • Limitations: Hunters are allowed to take one bear. However, it is illegal to harvest a sow with cubs or bears weighing 100 lbs. or less.

Party Dog Hunts

  • Dates: October 24-30.
  • Party Limit: A maximum of 5 bears per party is allowed. The same restrictions apply regarding sows with cubs and bears under 100 lbs.
  • Registration Requirement: All parties, with a maximum size of 25 hunters, must register by September 1. Registration can be done by writing to SCDNR at 311 Natural Resources Dr., Clemson, SC 29631 or by downloading the application from SCDNR Bear Hunting. Groups hunting together are regarded as one party.

Game Zone 2

(Private land only in Greenville, Oconee, Pickens, Anderson, and Spartanburg counties.)

  • Quota: The combined quota for these counties is 20 bears. If this quota is met before October 30, the season will close within 24 hours following the issuance of a season closure notice.
  • Monitoring Responsibility: Hunters must stay informed about the season status either via SCDNR website or by calling 1-844-SC1-BEAR (1-844-721-2327).
  • Still Hunts (No Dogs): October 17-30, with the same limitations on bear size and sow with cubs.

Game Zone 4

(Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Marion, and Williamsburg counties.)

  • Weapons Restriction: On WMA lands in Game Zone 4 open for bear hunting, the weapons permitted are those allowed for the current open season for deer on each WMA.
  • Quota: The combined quota for these counties is 30 bears, with the season closing within 24 hours of the quota being met, as in Game Zone 2.
  • Baiting on Private Land: In Game Zone 4, bears can be hunted over unprocessed bait on private land. Unprocessed bait refers to natural plant-derived items such as grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables, in their raw form.
  • Still Hunts (No Dogs): October 17-30, following the same statewide limitations.

Bear Harvest Reporting Procedures in South Carolina

Mandatory Reporting of Harvested Bears

In South Carolina, all hunters who successfully harvest a bear are required to report their harvest. This reporting must be completed by midnight on the day of the harvest. Accurate and timely reporting is essential for the state's wildlife management and conservation efforts, ensuring sustainable bear populations.

Reporting Methods

Hunters have several convenient options for reporting their bear harvest:

  1. Go Outdoors SC Mobile App:

    • This app allows hunters to report their harvest directly from their mobile devices. It's designed for ease of use and can be a quick way to fulfill the reporting requirement.
  2. Online Reporting:

    • Hunters can enter their harvest details on the website GoOutdoorsSouthCarolina.com. This method is ideal for those who prefer using a computer or do not have the mobile app.
  3. SC Game Check Reporting Phone Line:

    • By calling 1-833-4SC-GAME (1-833-472-4263), hunters can report their bear harvest over the phone. This option is particularly useful for those who may not have internet access or prefer speaking to a representative.
  4. Text to Harvest Option:

    • Hunters can initiate the reporting process by texting “Harvest” to 1-833-472-4263. They will then receive prompts to complete the reporting. This method combines the convenience of texting with the efficiency of digital reporting.

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.