RALEIGH — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will conduct nine public hearings in January 2017 on proposed changes to 39 agency regulations related to wildlife management, fisheries and game lands for the 2017-18 seasons. One of those hearings will be held in Elkin.
Three proposed regulations would redefine youth as anyone under 18 years old and allow them to participate during the youth either-sex deer hunts (H2), Youth Deer Hunting Day (H2), Spring Youth-only Wild Turkey Season (H2), Youth-only Delayed Harvest Trout Water Season (F9), and any youth hunts on game lands (G2). Under these proposals, licensing requirements would not change.
Proposed regulation (D1) would establish guidelines and set standards for the commission to carry out the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (WVC). The North Carolina General Assembly adopted the WVC in 2008, which creates a way for member states to: (1) Promote compliance of hunting, fishing, and trapping regulations in their respective states; and (2) Provide for the fair and impartial treatment of persons committing wildlife violations in member states. The WVC requires the Wildlife Resources Commission and Marine Fisheries Commission to adopt rules necessary to carry out its purpose.
Among the wildlife management-related proposed changes is one that would eliminate the use of paper Big Game Harvest Record sheets (H7). Hunters would report their big game harvest either by phone or Internet. If passed, this proposal would complete the conversion of big game harvest reporting from paper to an electronic registration system, which began with turkey harvest reporting in 2003.
Four game land proposals would add nearly 7,300 acres to the commission’s Game Lands Program. If passed:
• 156 acres would be established as the new Hill Farm Game Land, which borders the Dan River in northwestern Stokes County and would be designated a permit-only area (G7).
• 2,400 acres of the 3,170-acre Rendezvous Mountain State Forest in Wilkes County would be enrolled in the Game Lands Program as a three-day-per-week game land with bear hunting prohibited, as requested by the N.C. Forest Service, which owns the tract (G9).
• 2,818 acres of the newly acquired Voice of America tract in Beaufort County would become a permit-only area (G13).
• 1,925 acres would be established as the new William H. Silver Game Land in Haywood County, which would be a six-day-per week game land with an introductory either-sex deer season (G14).
More information on all of the proposed regulations to the agency’s wildlife management, game lands, fishing and other agency regulations for the 2017-18 seasons can be found online.
The comment period for the proposed regulation will run through Feb. 1, 2017. Comments on the proposed changes may be submitted online, at the public hearing, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to: Rules Coordinator, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, 1701 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1701.
After collecting and considering all public comments, the 19 wildlife commissioners will meet on Feb. 16, 2017, to decide whether to adopt the proposals. Approved proposals will take effect Aug. 1, 2017.
The schedule for the 2017-18 public hearings includes one to begin at 7 p.m. Jan. 19, 2017, at Elkin High School, 334 Elk Spur St., Elkin.