Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Fewer gators have been harvested during South Carolina's gator season this year.
That's according to Jay Butfiloski, the fur bearer and alligator program coordinator for Department of Natural Resources.
So far this year, according to Butfiloski, 368 harvested gators have been reported. "It should be a bit more than that, " he says, "we are still getting in the numbers and expect it to reach about 400." That's down from previous years and that could be due to a number of factors.
"Weather got a little colder in the last few weeks which might have made them a bit more scarce. Also think that the easy ones are gone, " said Butfiloski. By easy ones he means the ones that didn't seem to mind people, that were more out in the open. "That's good for us that most of those are gone, " he said.
Public gator hunting in South Carolina began in 2008, with a trial run in 2007. About 6600 people applied this year for tags and 1200 were available and cost per tag is $100.00. Only one tag is issued per person and tags are drawn in a lottery fashion, 1064 tags were awarded to hunters.
Hunters from 42 different states applied for tags, some from as far away in recent years as Alaska, Puerto Rico and Canada.
The largest gator reported so far was taken in the Lake Moultrie area and measured 13 1/2 feet. About four 13 foot Gators have been reported harvested to DNR so far. Those Gators would be about 35-70 years old.
The most popular region has been the southern coastal area around the Savanna River and Beaufort area. The Midlands area has the lowest number each year, and so far 71 have been harvested this year.
Most of the hunters, said Butfiloski, eat or have the alligators mounted, some have the hides tanned to be used as belts or wallets.