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State wildlife commissioners considering Sunday hunting

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission will consider Sunday hunting on its game lands during the 2021-22 annual rules cycle under new authority granted in 2017 with the Outdoor Heritage Enhanced Act.

Hunters must still follow the law’s three prohibitions restricting Sunday hunting:

– with a firearm between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.;

– deer with the use of dogs; and

– within 500 yards of a place of worship.

This year, the agency has gathered data and public comment to inform its decision about hunting on Sunday. Focus groups were held and developed guiding principles and criteria for evaluating individual game lands. Staff reviewed each game land and assigned one of the following recommendations: “yes,” “no,” or “not now.”

Some 55 of the agency’s 92 game lands were recommended for allowing Sunday hunting. In northeastern North Carolina, the seven included game lands are:

– Alligator River

– Currituck Banks

– Dare Game Land on Mainland

– Gull Rock in Hyde County

– New Lake in Hyde County

– North River in Currituck County

– Northwest River Marsh in Currituck County

The commission staff then consulted with agency biologists about any negative impacts on upland game birds, deer and bear that might result from Sunday hunting.

The only limiting recommendation is in the Coastal Bear Management Unit. The bear population growth rate in that unit is 0%, the objective. “Additional opportunities for harvest in the CBMU could result in negative population growth rate or a reduction in the population size . . .

“The recommendation at this time is to prohibit bear hunting on Sundays on the game lands in CBMU to meet the guiding principal identified by the focus groups, that the resources come first.”

The timeline for considering the 2021-22 rules package:

– October 22, 2020: Present suggested rule text to the commission for approval to notice, open the public comment period, and present at public hearings.

– December 1, 2020 through February 1, 2021: Public comment period.

– January 2021: Present proposed rule text at public hearings.

– February 2021: Present public comments and final rule text to Commission for final adoption.

– August 1, 2021: New rules become effective.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has opened the public comment period for proposed changes to agency regulations related to wildlife management, inland fisheries and game lands for the 2021-22 seasons. The comment period is open through Monday, Feb. 1, 2021.

Comments may be submitted online at ncpaws.org/PAWS/WRC/PublicComments/PublicComments.aspx, emailed to regulations@ncwildlife.org including name, phone number and mailing address or mailed to Rule-Making Coordinator, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, 1701 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1700.

For more information, visit ncwildlife.org/proposed-regulations.

An online public hearing is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.

Register online at ncwildlife.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_jef8D745QLmI6b-b81hy8Q.

Join by phone toll free (888-788-0099 or 877-853-5247) using webinar ID: 928 5632 3468.

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