Wildlife could be affected by hunting laws

It’s not too late to weigh in on a few controversial changes to the state’s hunting laws under study by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

Each year, the Wildlife Commission proposes a litany of changes to the hunting and fishing regs in the state. This year, a few are causing a stir, namely ones that loosen restrictions of hunting and could have a detrimental impact on wildlife as a result.

“These rules could have an impact on North Carolina’s valued traditions, wild places and wild things,” said John Edwards, an advocate for nature and wildlife who lives in Cashiers.

One getting a lot of flack, including from hunters themselves, would add an extra week to turkey season.

Hunters were chief advocates in helping restore the state’s wild turkey population over the past three decades, with efforts helping the species rebound from a mere 2,000 birds in 1970 to about 150,000 birds today. Hunters and wildlife advocates fear the population could start slipping backwards if hunting increases too much.

According to the Pisgah chapter of the North Carolina Wild Turkey Federation, “This proposal is believed to be biologically unsound and would hurt the turkey population, interfere with breeding, increase hen mortality and harm wild turkey reproduction.”

Another change would allow limited hunting on Sunday, which is currently banned in the state. The rule change would allow only bow hunting on Sundays and on private land only — so no guns and still no hunting on public lands, but considered a foot in the door by those opposed to Sunday hunting.

Yet another controversial rule change would open the Daniel Boone Bear Sanctuary to limited hunting of bears. The Wildlife Commission feels the bear sanctuary has enough bears and can stand some hunting, also citing problem bears annoying people.

Edwards questioned whether the bears should be held responsible, however.

“Most bear experts believe human conduct, not bears, is the cause of the majority of incidences that occur. They encourage better education for those living in bear country,” Edwards said. “In addition, how will it be determined which bear should be killed and on what basis?”

The Wildlife Commission also wants to lift the ban on trapping otters, which have only recently been reintroduced in the mountains after years of extinction due to over-trapping, and allowing unfettered trapping of raccoons in the region.

To comment, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or go to www.ncwildlife.org, click on “submit comments” on the right, and scroll through the listing of rule changes until you see the one you want to comment on. The deadline is Feb. 1. The Wildlife Commission will decide in March.

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