1976 South Carolina Code of Laws
Updated through the end of the 2009 Session
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Title 50 - Fish, Game and Watercraft
NONGAME AND ENDANGERED SPECIES CONSERVATION ACT
SECTION 50-15-10. Short title.
This chapter may be cited as the "South Carolina Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act."
SECTION 50-15-20. Definitions.
As used in this chapter:
(1) "Ecosystem" means a system of living organisms and their environment, each influencing the existence of the other and both necessary for the maintenance of life.
(2) "Endangered species" means any species or subspecies of wildlife whose prospects of survival or recruitment within the State are in jeopardy or are likely within the foreseeable future to become so due to any of the following factors:
(a) the destruction, drastic modification, or severe curtailment of its habitat, or
(b) its over-utilization for scientific, commercial or sporting purposes, or
(c) the effect on it of disease, pollution, or predation, or
(d) other natural or manmade factors affecting its prospects of survival or recruitment within the State, or
(e) any combination of the foregoing factors. The term shall also be deemed to include any species or subspecies of fish or wildlife appearing on the United States' List of Endangered Native Fish and Wildlife as it appears on July 2, 1974 (Part 17 of Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Appendix D) as well as any species or subspecies of fish and wildlife appearing on the United States' List of Endangered Foreign Fish and Wildlife (Part 17 of Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Appendix A), as such list may be modified hereafter.
(3) "Management" means the collection and application of biological information for the purposes of increasing the number of individuals within species and populations of wildlife up to the optimum carrying capacity of their habitat and maintaining such levels. The term includes the entire range of activities that constitute a modern scientific resource program including, but not limited to, research, census, law enforcement, habitat acquisition and improvement, and education. Also included within the term, when and where appropriate, is the periodic or total protection of species or populations as well as regulated taking.
(4) "Nongame species" means any wild mammal, bird, amphibian, reptile, fish, mollusk, crustacean, or other wild animal not otherwise legally classified by statute or regulation of this State as a game species.
(5) "Optimum carrying capacity" means that point at which a given habitat can support healthy populations of wildlife species, having regard to the total ecosystem, without diminishing the ability of the habitat to continue that function.
(6) "Person" means any individual, firm, corporation, association or partnership.
(7) "Take" means to harass, hunt, capture, or kill or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill wildlife.
(8) "Wildlife" means any wild mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish, mollusk, crustacean or other wild animal or any part, product, egg or offspring or the dead body or parts thereof.
SECTION 50-15-30. Investigations on nongame wildlife by department; rules and regulations; management programs; public hearings; prohibited acts.
(a) The department shall conduct investigations on nongame wildlife in order to develop information relating to population, distribution, habitat, needs, limiting factors, and other biological and ecological data to determine management measures necessary for their continued ability to sustain themselves successfully. On the basis of such determinations the department shall issue proposed regulations and develop management programs designed to ensure the continued ability of nongame wildlife to perpetuate themselves successfully. Such proposed regulations shall set forth species or subspecies of nongame wildlife which the department deems in need of management pursuant to this section, giving their common and scientific names by species or subspecies. The department shall conduct ongoing investigations of nongame wildlife and may from time to time amend such regulations by adding or deleting therefrom species or subspecies of nongame wildlife.
(b) The department shall by such regulations establish proposed limitations relating to taking, possession, transportation, exportation, processing, sale or offer for sale, or shipment as may be deemed necessary to manage such nongame wildlife.
Such regulation shall become effective sixty days after being proposed during which period public comment shall be solicited and received. The board may hold a public hearing if deemed appropriate. On the basis of public comments received or the testimony at any such hearing the department may make such changes in the proposed regulation as are consistent with effective management of nongame wildlife.
(c) Except as provided in regulations issued by the department, it shall be unlawful for any person to take, possess, transport, export, process, sell or offer for sale or ship nongame wildlife deemed by the department to be in need of management pursuant to this section. Subject to the same exception, it shall further be unlawful for any common or contract carrier knowingly to transport or receive for shipment nongame wildlife deemed by the department to be in need of management pursuant to this section.
SECTION 50-15-40. Endangered species listed; review and amendment of list; unlawful to take, deal in, or transport species on lists.
(a) On the basis of investigations on nongame wildlife provided for in Section 50-15-30 and other available scientific and commercial data, and after consultation with other State agencies, appropriate Federal agencies, and other interested persons and organizations, but not later than one year after July 2, 1974, the department shall by regulation propose a list of those species or subspecies of wildlife indigenous to the State which are determined to be endangered within this State, giving their common and scientific names by species and subspecies. Such regulation shall become effective sixty days after being proposed during which period public comment shall be solicited and received. The board may hold a public hearing if deemed appropriate. On the basis of public comments received or the testimony at any such hearing, the department may add to such proposed list additional species or subspecies which are determined to be endangered within the State or delete therefrom such species or subspecies which are determined not to be endangered within the State.
(b) The board shall conduct a review of the state list of endangered species within not more than two years from its effective date and every two years thereafter and may amend the list by such additions or deletions as are deemed appropriate. The board shall submit to the Governor a summary report of the data used in support of all amendments to the state list during the preceding biennium.
(c) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, it shall be unlawful for any person to take, possess, transport, export, process, sell or offer for sale or ship, and for any common or contract carrier knowingly to transport or receive for shipment any species or subspecies of wildlife appearing on any of the following lists:
(1) the list of wildlife indigenous to the State determined to be endangered within the State pursuant to subsection (a);
(2) the United States' List of Endangered Native Fish and Wildlife as it appears on July 2, 1974 (Part 17 of Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Appendix D); and
(3) the United States' List of Endangered Foreign Fish and Wildlife (Part 17 of Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Appendix A), as such list may be modified hereafter; provided, that any species or subspecies of wildlife appearing on any of the foregoing lists which enters the State from another state or from a point outside the territorial limits of the United States and which is transported across the State destined for a point beyond the State may be so entered and transported without restriction in accordance with the terms of any Federal permit or permit issued under the laws or regulations of another state.
(d) In the event the United States' List of Endangered Native Fish and Wildlife is modified subsequent to July 2, 1974 by additions or deletions, such modifications whether or not involving species or subspecies indigenous to the State may be accepted as binding under subsection (c) if, after the type of scientific determination described in subsection (a), the department by regulation accepts such modification for the State. Any such regulation shall be effective upon promulgation.
SECTION 50-15-50. Establishing and carrying out programs for management of nongame and endangered wildlife; removal, capture, or destruction of wildlife; permits for removal of alligators.
(A) The board shall establish such programs, including acquisition of land or aquatic habitat, as are deemed necessary for management of nongame and endangered wildlife. The board shall utilize all authority vested in the department to carry out the purposes of this section.
(B) In carrying out programs authorized by this section, the department may enter into agreements with federal agencies, political subdivisions of the State, or with private persons for administration and management of any area established under this section or utilized for management of nongame or endangered wildlife.
(C) The Governor shall encourage other state and federal agencies to utilize their authorities in furtherance of the purposes of this section.
(D) The department may permit the taking, possession, transportation, exportation, or shipment of species or subspecies of wildlife which appear on the state list of endangered species, or species in need of management on the United States' List of Threatened or Endangered Native Fish and Wildlife, as amended and accepted in accordance with Section 50-15-40(d), or on the United States' List of Threatened or Endangered Foreign Fish and Wildlife, as such list may be modified hereafter, for scientific, zoological, or educational purposes, for propagation in captivity of such wildlife, or for other special purposes.
(E) Upon good cause shown, and where necessary to alleviate damage to property or to protect human health, endangered species may be removed, captured, or destroyed but only pursuant to permit issued by the department and, where possible, by or under the supervision of an agent of the department; provided, that threatened or endangered species or species in need of management may be removed, captured, or destroyed without permit by any person in emergency situations involving an immediate threat to human life. Provisions for removal, capture, or destruction of nongame wildlife for the purposes set forth above shall be set forth in regulations issued by the department pursuant to Section 50-15-30(a).
SECTION 50-15-55. Criteria of designating land as certified management area for endangered species; review and revision.
(A) The department shall promulgate regulations addressing criteria for designating land as certified management area for endangered species or of species in need of management in order to qualify a taxpayer for the income tax credit provided for in Section 12-6-3520.
(B) Every five years the department may review the population status of species subject to certified management agreements and shall revise the regulations accordingly. The department may revise criteria at that time as necessary for lands to retain their designation as certified management areas.
SECTION 50-15-60. Repealed by 2008 Act. No. 179, Section 4, eff February 19, 2008.
SECTION 50-15-65. Alligator hunting, control and management.
(A) The General Assembly finds that the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) was reclassified by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service from endangered or threatened to "threatened due to similarity of appearance throughout the remainder of its range" pursuant to the federal Endangered Species Act (16 USC 1531) and the regulations issued to implement that act. American alligators may now be taken under federal law in compliance with 50 CFR 17.42(a)(2)(ii). Therefore, in order to create more opportunity for hunting and for the controlled harvest of the alligator the General Assembly finds it in the best interest of the State to allow the taking of the alligator under strictly controlled conditions and circumstances and in compliance with federal law.
(B)(1) The department must establish an alligator management program that allows for hunting and for selective removal of alligators in order to provide for the sound management of the animals and to ensure the continued viability of the species. The department must set the conditions for taking, including the size, methods of take, areas, times and seasons, disposition of the parts, and other conditions to properly control the harvest of alligators and the disposition of parts. The department may allow alligators to be taken at any time of the year, on any area, including sanctuaries, as part of its alligator management program. All alligators taken under the alligator management program must be taken pursuant to permits and under conditions established by the department in accordance with state and federal law. All alligators taken must be tagged. Except for those persons operating under authority of depredation permits, a person who hunts, takes, or attempts to take an alligator must have a South Carolina hunting license.
(2) The department may establish an alligator hunting season. The department may issue alligator permits to allow hunting and taking of alligators in any game zone where alligators occur. A person desiring to hunt and take alligators must apply to the department. The application fee is ten dollars and is nonrefundable. Successful applicants must be randomly selected and must pay a one-hundred-dollar fee for the permit.
(3) A landowner or lessee of property on which alligators occur may apply to the department for a permit to participate in the Private Lands Alligator program. The application fee for participation in this program is ten dollars and is nonrefundable. On those private lands the season for hunting and taking alligators is from September first through October fifteenth. The cost for each alligator tag under this program is ten dollars. On those lands in the private lands program only, unsecured alligators may be taken by firearms provided, no alligator may be taken by use of rim fire weapons or shotguns. Unsecured alligators may be taken only by firearms from thirty minutes before sunrise until thirty minutes after sunset. A person who takes an alligator by use of firearms must make a reasonable effort to recover the carcass at the time of taking or for the next ensuing forty-eight hours. A person using a firearm to take an alligator must have a gaff or grappling hook or other similar device to immediately locate and recover the carcass.
(4) The department may designate alligator control agents who demonstrate by training and experience that they possess the skills to remove alligators. Those persons designated serve at the discretion of the department. The department may require periodic demonstrations of skill or require periodic training. Alligator control agents function under the general guidance and supervision of the department for the capture and removal of nuisance alligators including the disposition or the alligator or its parts.
(C) It is unlawful to feed, entice, or molest an alligator except as permitted under state and federal law. Any person who violates this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and must be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than one hundred fifty dollars or imprisoned for up to thirty days, or both. The magistrates court retains jurisdiction of this offense.
(D) A person who hunts or takes an alligator or allows alligators to be hunted or taken or possesses or disposes of alligator parts, except as allowed by this section and the implementing regulations, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than five hundred dollars nor more than two thousand five hundred dollars or imprisoned for up to thirty days, or both. The magistrates court retains jurisdiction of this offense. In addition, the court may order restitution for any animal or part of an animal taken, possessed, or transferred in violation of this section.
(E) All revenue including fines, forfeitures, sales, and fees derived from this section must be deposited in the Wildlife Protection Fund and used by the department to support the alligator management program.
SECTION 50-15-70. Promulgation of regulations.
The department shall promulgate such regulations as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
SECTION 50-15-75. Removal of certain turtles from state; exceptions; penalties.
(A) It is unlawful for a person, or a group of individuals traveling in one vehicle, to remove, or attempt to remove from this State more than ten, either in one species or a combination of species, of the named species of turtles at one time with a maximum of twenty turtles of these species, either individually or in combination in any one year: yellowbelly turtle (Trachemys scripta), Florida cooter (Pseudemys floridana), river cooter (Pseudemys concinna), chicken turtle (Deirochelys reticularia), eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina), eastern painted turtle (Chrysemys picta), spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera), Florida softshell turtle (Apalone ferox), and common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina).
(B) The provisions of this section do not prohibit the sale, offer for sale, or purchase of the yellowbelly turtle (Trachemys scripta) species and the common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) species if these turtles were taken from a permitted aquaculture facility or a private pond pursuant to a permit issued by the department at the request of the owner or owner's agent. Any person transporting more than ten yellowbelly turtle (Trachemys scripta) species or common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) species must be in possession of a permit pursuant to which the turtles were taken or acquired and, upon request, must provide it to authorized agents of the department. A person selling, offering to sell, or purchasing these species must have documentation from the aquaculture facility as to the origin of the turtles. The department may charge twenty-five dollars for a permit.
(C) A person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be punished by a fine of up to two hundred dollars or up to thirty days in jail, or both. A violator also must have his permit permanently revoked and may never be issued another one. Each turtle removed or in possession of a person attempting to remove them is a separate violation of this section.
SECTION 50-15-80. Penalties; searches and seizures; power to arrest; disposition of confiscated property.
(A) A person who violates Section 50-15-30 or a person who fails to procure or violates the terms of a permit issued under the regulations is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days and ordered to pay restitution.
(B) A person who violates Section 50-15-40(c) or regulations promulgated pursuant to it or a person who fails to procure or violates the terms of a permit issued under Section 50-15-50(D) and (E) is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
(C) An enforcement officer employed and authorized by the department or a police officer of the State or a municipality or county within the State may conduct searches as provided by law and execute a warrant to search for and seize equipment, business records, merchandise, or wildlife taken, used, or possessed in connection with a violation of this chapter. The officer or agency, without a warrant, may arrest a person who the officer or agent has probable cause to believe is violating, in his presence or view, the chapter or a regulation or permit provided for by it. An officer or agent who has made an arrest of a person in connection with a violation may search the person or business records at the time of arrest and seize wildlife, records, or property taken or used in connection with the violation.
(D) Equipment, merchandise, wildlife, or records seized under subsection (C) must be held by an officer or agent of the department pending disposition of court proceedings and forfeited to the State for destruction or disposition as the board considers appropriate. Before forfeiture, the board may direct the transfer of wildlife seized to a qualified zoological, educational, or scientific institution for safekeeping. The costs of the transfer are assessable to the defendant. The department may promulgate regulations to implement this subsection.
SECTION 50-15-90. Chapter not retroactive; certain importation not prohibited.
None of the provisions of this chapter shall be construed to apply retroactively or to prohibit importation into the State of wildlife which may be lawfully imported into the United States or lawfully taken or removed from another state or to prohibit entry into the State or possession, transportation, exportation, processing, sale or offer for sale or shipment of any wildlife whose species or subspecies is deemed to be threatened with statewide extinction in this State but not in the state where originally taken if the person engaging therein demonstrates by substantial evidence that such wildlife was lawfully taken or removed from such state; provided, that this section shall not be construed to permit the possession, transportation, exportation, processing, sale or offer for sale or shipment within this State of wildlife on the United States' List of Endangered Native Fish and Wildlife, as amended and accepted in accordance with Section 50-15-40(d), except as permitted in the proviso to Section 50-15-40(c) and Section 50-15-50(d).