S.C. Dept. of Natural Resources invites public to discuss deer population, hunting in Francis Marion Forest

Source: Live 5
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 4:27 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2022 at 8:21 AM EDT
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MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources is holding a public meeting in Moncks Corner to hear from deer hunters ahead of the upcoming hunting season. They want to discuss the deer population and deer hunting in the Francis Marion National Forest.

SCDNR’s Big Game Coordinator, Charles Ruth, said they have been hearing from hunters for years that they feel the population of deer is falling. Thursday night they are going to present data and offer potential solutions to these hunters.

Between 2005 and 2020, the estimated deer harvest in the Francis Marion forest has fallen by almost 62% according to SCDNR’s Deer Research and Management Project.

However, Ruth said these numbers are dependent on people reporting their harvests, and he said reporting, in general, has decreased.

Regardless of the data, Ruth said Thursday’s meeting is designed to address hunters’ concerns over the population and offer them solutions.

One potential solution he provided is to moderate the harvest of female deer.

Ruth said hunting regulation is about as much as SCDNR can control, considering Francis Marion forest is federal property. However, he encourages hunters who have a “stake in the game” to show up at the meeting to join the conversation about potential solutions.

“Come out at the meeting, look at the data, let’s have a conversation and see if we can agree to move ahead or not,” Ruth said.

He said any regulation changes would not go into effect until the 2023 deer season.

The meeting will be held Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Santee Cooper Auditorium, at 1 Riverwood Drive in Moncks Corner.