RALEIGH — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission recently voted on proposed rule changes to the state’s game land, wildlife management and inland fishing regulations.
Of the 37 proposed rule changes, 34 were approved as taken to public hearings; one game land regulation was amended and approved; one wildlife management regulation was removed from consideration; and one wildlife management regulation was disapproved.
The effective date for the approved regulations, which are for the 2016-17 seasons, is Aug. 1.
The wildlife commissioners approved eight wildlife management proposals, including one which would establish the framework to open an elk hunting season in western North Carolina. Along with this proposal, they adopted a complementary resolution delaying the issuance of any elk hunting permits until state, federal and tribal land organizations have determined appropriate allocation of permits based on annual sustainable harvest goals and population viability.
“Our next step will be to work closely with our partners, including the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, to establish clear metrics to guide a permit-only hunt sometime in the future,” said Gordon Myers, the commission’s executive director. “Together we will work to determine sustainable harvest goals and how to allocate harvest across the population range.”
As defined, the elk hunting season will be from Oct. 1 through Nov. 1 with a bag limit of one per permit. The manner of take would be any legal firearm or archery equipment.
Disapproved proposed regulation
Out of an abundance of caution and desire for additional biological information, commissioners disapproved a proposed alligator hunting season. Because the take of alligators in some situations is reasonable and appropriate, the commissioners directed Myers, through a resolution, to examine options which would utilize the skills and expertise of North Carolina sportsmen and women to provide assistance in removal of alligators under nuisance or depredation circumstances.
The resolution further directed Myers to create an Alligator Task Force that would develop a North Carolina Alligator Management Plan, which would include an evaluation of biological information and knowledge gaps on alligators in the state and recommendation for a framework for gathering public input on the plan.
Amended and approved regulation
They also amended a proposed regulation to designate Holly Shelter Game Land as a six-day-per-week game land and restrict dog hunting for deer and bear to Mondays, Wednesday and Saturdays, by adding the following three days: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Proposed regulation removed from consideration
Wildlife commissioners did not vote on a proposed regulation to remove the Eastern cougar as a federally listed species in North Carolina. Pursuant to state law, federally listed animals must have the same designation in the state as their federal status. The commission expected the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the Eastern cougar from the federal list, but this action has been delayed.
In addition to voting on the proposed regulations, wildlife commissioners approved a no-wake zone on Palmetto Drive Canal in Cedar Point, as well as a request by Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC to establish a no-vessel entry swimming area at the Pines Recreation Area Swim Beach on Lake Glenville in Jackson County to ensure the safety of swimmers and boaters at the new swim beach.
They also voted to start the temporary rulemaking process for black bear hunting, which will include public hearings. The temporary rules are:
• Move the black bear hunting season in Brunswick and Columbus counties to the second Monday in November to Jan. 1.
• Extend the time that bears can be taken with the aid of unprocessed food as bait to the entire open season.
Each year, wildlife commissioners vote on proposed regulations changes after hearing staff recommendations and reviewing comments received by the public.
To view the full text of all 37 proposed regulations, visit the Commission’s website, www.ncwildlife.org and download the public hearings booklet.