To the Editor:
In my conversations with responsible hunters, wildlife advocates, employees of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and organizations who value wild lives and wild places, it is generally agreed there is a need to build bridges and work together in addressing a host of issues facing our mutually owned wildlife.
A growing population in Western North Carolina, shrinking wildlife habitat and wild places, poaching and other crimes against wildlife —along with some insensitive hunting practices — create an urgent need for cooperative efforts to help identify pressing concerns and seek workable solutions to complex challenges we all face in WNC. A commitment to “do the right thing” is a worthy goal for those who deeply value wildlife and our unique natural resources.
There is a need for creative thinking and a willingness to seek compromises that have the support of responsible hunters, the general public and wildlife friendly organizations; for the expressed purpose of getting the attention of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the General Assembly.
An encouraging step in the right direction is an article in the fall issue of the “North Carolina Wildlife Federation Journal” called “Resolving to Fight for Wildlife.”
Of particular interest was one of the resolutions passed by the NCWF Board of Directors called a “Sportsman Responsibility Doctrine.” It states, “the NCWF pledges to work in cooperation with hunting and fishing groups, the general public, the NCWRC and NC General Assembly to develop a slate of amendments to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Law and implementing rules to be known as the ‘Sportsman Responsibility Doctrine.’” It goes on the say, “this is designed to help end conflicts among hunters and anglers, landowners and the general public.”
In addition, during a recent meeting in Waynesville, an effort was set in motion to build and share common interests regarding wildlife and public concerns in WNC. A diverse group of hunters, wildlife advocates, NCWRC employees, a representative from the NC General Assembly, representatives from the Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance and Highlands Plateau Audubon Society met in a gathering sponsored by Wild South.
Some success emerged in this attempt to create compromise along with better understanding and awareness regarding our “commonly valued wildlife” and other related issues. This WNC Wildlife Advocate Group feels more discussion is needed and plans involve meeting again, in the near future, with additional organizations and individuals invited to participate.
Most of those who value property rights, sportsmanship and the passion of the outdoor experience share some of these specific concerns: hunters and dogs trespassing on private property, finding ways to add NCWRC enforcement officers in a strapped economy, firm prosecution and sentencing of those who commit crimes involving “our wildlife” and insensitive hunting practices that diminish the sporting image of hunting. Efforts to address any of these will entail public support, cooperation and the courage needed to make changes beneficial to the majority of residents in WNC.
Wild South Wildlife Outreach Coordinator