HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Alligator hunting season ended in October, and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) reports about 100 fewer gators were killed in 2020 than in 2019.

SCDNR says cooler temperatures, rain and COVID-19 are possible reasons for the decrease, but
“The Snake Chaser” Russell Cavender tells News13 he doesn’t think the decrease has to do with weather.

Although you can get permits and tags to gator hunt by mail, Cavender says COVID-19 did make it difficult for people to have access to government buildings, especially when they were shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, making it more harder to get tags in-person.

Cavender also says although the amount of phone calls he receives to remove wildlife grows each year, in 2020, he’s received less calls to remove alligators.

“I think things changed a lot last year when I made a big stink about people killing them. I think more people took that to heart and there’s been less calls because of that,” Cavender said.

The bill introduced in the state Senate this year that would require SCDNR to come up with more humane ways to relocate gators is in limbo right now because of the pandemic.

“I’ve heard some rumors that a lot of people are for it, but it’s got to get through the legislature first,” Cavender said.

Cavender, who supports the bill, said that he thinks more people are taking the issue to heart and realizing that if he’s called to remove a gator, he has to destroy it.

“Killing an alligator that’s on a threatened species list just doesn’t make much sense. Especially when you can have an option. There’s places that you can take ‘em,” Cavender said.

If the bill is passed, Cavender said it could help to continue lessening the amount of gators killed.

“It’ll give people like myself who have concerns about destroying a threatened species the opportunity to do something that will sort of, you know, keep their survival rate up,” Cavender said.

Although there’s less gators being killed, Cavender said there’s more gators hanging out around our area.