Category Archives: HUNTING

Debate over bear hunting with dogs could get vicious

Hunting elusive bears becomes easier when assisted by dogs, as seen in this file photo. Under General Assembly-approved legislation known as a ‘Local Law,’ the practice is currently banned in Pamlico County.

Hunting elusive bears becomes easier when assisted by dogs, as seen in this file photo. Under General Assembly-approved legislation known as a ‘Local Law,’ the practice is currently banned in Pamlico County.

By Lawrence Rowe

PAMLICO COUNTY – This is an open letter to the Pamlico County Board of Commissioners, which I have asked to be placed on the front page of the County Compass Newspaper.

I am writing this as a citizen, taxpayer, and constituent of Pamlico County. It has come to the attention of myself and others that a movement is in motion that would once again allow the running of dogs in Pamlico County to hunt bear with.

This movement is far different from the one devised several years ago in the public spotlight. This movement has been silent, swift, and well supported behind the scenes by well-funded hunting groups, lobbyist, and yes even by some County Commissioners.

I ask that the Pamlico County commissioners table this discussion on the bear hunting with dogs until the next meeting on March 21, 2016. This will afford the citizens of Pamlico County the opportunity to voice their opinions, either way, on this matter.

I ask that any and all citizens contact your local County Commissioner with your concerns on this
matter and ask them to table this discussion until the meetang on March 21, 2016.

Lawrence Rowe
Pamlico County

Hybrid ‘coy-wolves’ killing young deer

NEWS1-CUT-Coy-wolves-leave-time-temp-in-tact

NORTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA – This June 9 photo, taken by a trail camera on the farm of large landowner Jett Ferebee, confirms that deer and other wildlife are being decimated by a genetic hybrid of coyotes and wolves. Ferebee contends the federal government’s 30-year attempt to introduce red wolves into a five-county area of northeastern North Carolina is a failed experiment.

Public gets shot at proposed changes to hunting rules

This elk, held in a pen in Wyoming, exhibits symptoms of Chronic Wasting Disease – a transmissible neurological disease of deer and elk that produces small lesions in brains of infected animals. (Photo Credit: Dr. Terry Kreeger,                                                                                               Wyoming Game and Fish DepartmentCourtesy of Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance

This elk, held in a pen in Wyoming, exhibits symptoms of Chronic Wasting Disease – a transmissible neurological disease of deer and elk that produces small lesions in brains of infected animals. (Photo Credit: Dr. Terry Kreeger, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Courtesy of Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance)

RALEIGH — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will conduct nine public hearings in January on proposed changes to the state’s wildlife management, game lands and fishing regulations for the 2015-16 seasons.

Among the wildlife management-related proposed changes are temporary rules regulating the holding of deer in captivity. The proposals meet the General Assembly’s directive and follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Chronic Wasting Disease Program standards when regulating deer, elk and other ruminants in the cervid family. In addition, the temporary rules would allow captive cervid licensees to sell antlers, antler velvet, and hides from the animals held at their facilities.

Of interest to fishermen, are some 36 changes proposed by state regulators. One proposal would expand public waters for Mountain Trout with suggested modifications to size and creel limits for reservoir striped bass and Bodie bass (hybrid striped bass).

The comment period ends Jan. 23 for the deer-in-captivity rules. The Commission will consider comments and consider a vote to adopt these temporary rules at its Jan. 29 meeting. The temporary rules will become effective after approval by the Rules Review Commission in late February.

The comment period for all other proposed regulations will run through Feb. 8, 2015. After collecting and considering all public comments, the 19 Wildlife Commissioners will meet in March to decide whether to adopt the proposals. Approved proposals will take effect Aug. 1, 2015.

The closest public hearings for our area are as follows:

  • Tuesday, Jan 20, in Edenton at Swain Auditorium, beginning at 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 21, in New Bern at the Craven County Courthouse, beginning at 7 p.m.

When in doubt, order a report

In a 5 to 1 decision, commissioners waffle. Only Heath votes to sue re Atlas Tract

BAYBORO – Elected officials declined Monday night to support a pending lawsuit, which is expected to allege that Spring Creek Farms, an Illinois-based entity, violated the nation’s Clean Water Act by converting wetlands to agricultural use.

Instead, the board endorsed a motion made by Commissioner Ann Holton, suggesting the two sides should confer in an attempt to reach a compromise.

Holton, supported by Commissioners Christine Mele, Pat Prescott, Carl Ollison, and board chairman Paul Delamar III, asked for a written report on any “dialogue,” and she specified that the document be put on the agenda for the Commission’s second meeting in January.

Commissioner Kenny Heath explained his decision to cast the sole nay vote. He cited a unanimous board vote in November of 2013, requesting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reconsider its initial determination that the site in question is not wetlands.

“I think it is important for this board to be consistent,” said Heath. “I just don’t think the Corps has treated people equally in this matter.”

More than a year ago, Spring Creek Farms clear-cut 251 acres of forest land near the Florence area of Pamlico County, prompting a public outcry about the company’s future plans for the remainder of its land holdings, estimated to be some 4,500 acres.

In a letter to the county commissioners dated Nov. 17, 2014, a principal with the company, Mark Beck, wrote that Spring Creek Farms plans to “engage in farming activities that are an important part of why we spent over seven million dollars to buy this land!”

A large turnout, estimated at more that 100 people, forced County Manager Tim Buck to move the meeting from its normal conference room on the second floor of the Bayboro courthouse to the much larger courtroom.

There, all but one of more than a dozen citizens, urged the commissioners to embrace a lawsuit threatened by the Southern Environmental Law Center and the North Carolina Coastal Federation.

Under the Clean Water Act, any person or entity may bring suit to enforce wetland protections afforded by federal law. However, plaintiffs must first alert all prospective defendants with written correspondence, which is known as a “60-day Notice of Intent to Sue.”

Veteran attorney Derb Carter, representing the Southern Environmental Law Center, told the county commissioners that “this is really about the failure of federal agencies to make a proper wetlands determination,” to which he later added: “We intend to challenge this wrongly made decision. Our purpose is to give the agency a chance to reconsider.”

After Carter, New Bern-based attorney Clark Wright, who specializes in environmental law, offered his assessment of the situation, on behalf Spring Creek Farms.

“We are perfectly prepared to engage in a constructive dialogue as we try to work out a middle ground,” said Wright. Hinting that a cooling off period was in order, Wright said: “There’s no need to act today. You are not the linchpin of this matter. No one wants to see this in a federal court with depositions, discovery, affidavits in court, and all that mess.”

Dove season opens Today

Important rule: Avoid baited areas

Special to the County Compass

NEWS1-Dove-Hunting-picRALEIGH — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission reminds hunters that the dove hunting season opens Today, Sept. 1, and to be safe throughout the season for these popular game birds.

Shooting hours are half-hour before sunrise to sunset for the entire season, including opening day. The 2014-15 season for mourning and white-winged dove is Sept. 1 – Oct. 11 and Nov. 27 – Jan. 15. Daily bag limit is 15 and possession limit is 45.

“Opening day is a Monday, not a traditional Saturday,” said Kate Pipkin, Wildlife Commission rules biologist. “Although many hunters prefer the season to open the Saturday prior to Labor Day, federal guidelines do not allow states to open migratory game bird seasons prior to Sept. 1. Rather than wait until Sept. 6, which is the first Saturday after Labor Day, the Wildlife Commission went with the earliest possible date allowed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

Hunters should heed the Commission’s recommendations:

  *   When hunting in a group, adhere to established zones of fire.
  *   Never shoot at low-flying birds and alert others when a bird is too low for a safe shot.
  *   Take time prior to hunting to walk the field and inspect the area for bait.
  *   Never place decoys on utility lines, which is trespassing and risks electrical shock.
  *   Don’t combine game bags, which is a hunting regulations violation.

It is an individual hunter’s responsibility to know the area being hunted. Don’t hunt over baited fields. According to state regulations, the placing, exposing, depositing, distributing or scattering of salt, grain or other feed that could serve as a lure for migratory game can constitute a baited area. Because birds often return to a feeding area even after the food source is exhausted, hunting within 10 days after complete disappearance of feed from a baited area is illegal.

Duck soup easy compared to impoundment issue

In one of the session’s lighter moments, Maurice Benton, far left, points his finger at Carl Ollison, as other board members quiz Ollison, who also serves as a County Commissioner.

In one of the session’s lighter moments, Maurice Benton, far left, points his finger at Carl Ollison, as other board members quiz Ollison, who also serves as a County Commissioner.

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

BAYBORO – A hot potato issue – whether local government should attempt to regulate duck impoundments that are becoming increasingly prominent in Pamlico County’s far northeastern corner – got tossed back to the County Commissioners Tuesday night.

A seven-person advisory panel, known as the Planning Board, bluntly rejected a request from the County Commissioners to review the matter. Earlier this month, 60 residents of remote Goose Creek Island submitted a petition asking elected officials at the county level to “Prohibit Duck Impoundments in the Hobucken Community.”

In Tuesday evening’s 45-minute session, Planning Board Chairman Hiram Lupton and several colleagues pointed to actual wording of the petition as possibly an inaccurate portrayal of residents’ true concerns.

“If its for esthetic reasons that they (residents) don’t want any more duck impoundments, there’s nothing we can do about that,” said Lupton, adding: “It is probably not an anti-duck hunting issue, it is a safe hunting issue.”

New Bern-based attorney David Baxter, who advises the board on land use issues, agreed with Lupton’s assessment, suggesting the community’s reaction is more likely “shot falling on homes – I think it would be a safety concern.”

And, Baxter said any possible ordinance would have to rely upon “the county’s general police powers” with safety and property damage falling in that category. However, Baxter made it clear that in North Carolina any regulation of hunting, impoundments, and the like falls within the purview of the General Assembly, and clearly off limits to county rule-making or ordinances.

However, planning board member Carl Ollison – who is also a County Commissioner – disputed that analysis saying “They (residents) are concerned that the whole island could end up being one large duck impoundment.”

Board member John Buck agreed with Ollison.

“We’ve got to go with what they wrote right here,” said Buck, holding up a copy of the petition. “What they say here is they don’t want any more duck impoundments.”

The session took a comical tone when Ollison became a focal point. As at least one board member pointed his finger at Ollison, several jokingly suggested Ollison and other county commissioners had passed the buck to avoid political heat.

Planning Board member Maurice Benton put it best: “Your chairman (of the County Commission) should have said ‘we refer this matter to our lawyer,’ but instead it got kicked down to us (the Planning Board) too fast.”

Bear hunting over bait ‘ unnecessary ’ says group

By Richard B. Hamilton, Coordinator | N.C. Camo Coalition,
North Carolina Wildlife Federation| Special to the County Compass

featured-black-bear-in-NC-620x330The Wildlife Resources Commission has proposed over 40 changes to hunting, trapping, gamelands, and fishing rules for 2014-15 and has scheduled public hearings to review and to receive public comments on these proposals.

The Commission hosts its hearing in New Bern on Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. in the Craven County Courthouse.

NC Camo has reviewed all the proposals and supports them all except H9 and H10. These two proposals would allow hunting black bear over unprocessed food (bait) for the first week of black bear hunting season.

Using bait to facilitate taking black bear to increase the harvest is radical, controversial, and unnecessary.

Baiting is not permitted for hunting any migratory game birds or resident game birds. The US Fish and Wildlife Service does not allow baiting for hunting and even our state’s Wildlife Resources Commission prohibits the use of bait for any hunting any species on its two million acres of gamelands.

The use of baiting to harvest wildlife species is unproven and unpredictable. Many recognized techniques and practices for managing wildlife populations exist and should be applied to reach the goal of stabilizing the black bear population in North Carolina. Simple and effective techniques such as increasing the bag limit and/or lengthening the hunting season are proven, predictable measures that will accomplish the objective of increasing the harvest and stabilizing the population of black bear.

NC Camo recommends that you support all proposed changes to the hunting and fishing rules with the exception of proposals H9 and H10. We also recommend you e-mail your comments on the proposed rules to: regulations@ncwildife.org.

Bear hunting ‘with dogs’ hot topic

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

featured-black-bear-in-NC-620x330NEW BERN – Rules proposed by the state’s Wildlife Resources Commission might have the effect of negating a state law, passed in 1983, which currently prohibits “bear hunting with dogs in Pamlico County.”

Insiders expect a large turnout when the Commission convenes for a public hearing on this issue – and others — Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. at the Craven County Courthouse.

In a recent e-mail, Pamlico County Commissioner Kenny Heath asked that his colleagues on the seven-member board “demand” that the Wildlife Resources Commission hold the hearing in Pamlico County – something that could be on the agenda for the local board’s Jan. 6th meeting.

“I don’t see where this has any effect on Craven or any other county close to them besides us,” wrote Heath. “Unless anybody reads it any different, I would like it put on the next meeting agenda to request (demand) that the public hearing be held in Pamlico County.”

Own a rifle or a fishing pole?

Editor’s note: N.C. Camo Coaltion, an advocacy group for hunters and recreational fishermen, provides this look at issues pondered by the most recent session of the General Assembly. Astute readers will likely detect the organization’s stance on each issue, which are not necessarily the opinions of this newspaper.

Allow 7-day Hunting on Private Lands – One of the most widely discussed and controversial bills was introduced in both Houses early in the Session and would have allowed hunting on private lands with written permission on Sunday. The prohibition against hunting on Sunday dates back to 1886. Both of these bills failed to move out of agriculture committees in either House due to strong objection from the farm community and fundamental religious groups. Similar legislation has similarly perished many times in the past. Sunday hunting faces huge political hurdles in the NCGA, which can be overcome only by a strong and large advocacy group.

Coastal Game Fish Status for Red Drum, Speckled Sea Trout, and Striped Bass – The coastal game fish bill was introduced into the House of Representatives and referred to the Commerce Committee where strong support based upon economic benefits existed. However the commercial fishing industry raised strong objection and was able to politically maneuver the House Republican Caucus to withhold consideration of the bill. The bill is technically alive for consideration in the Spring Session, but prospects are not good.

Fish and Wildlife Poacher Reward Fund – This bill was introduced by Representative John Faircloth of Guilford County, passed both Houses almost unanimously, and signed by the Governor. The new law creates a special fund to be administered by the Wildlife Resources Commission to pay rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of person violating the more serious fish and wildlife laws of NC. The Fund receives its revenue from donations and a portion of the replacement cost assessed by the Court upon conviction of a fish or wildlife violation as a condition of suspension of sentence, which generates about $65,000 per year. Plus the Court can now add to the replacement and investigative costs an amount equal to the reward paid leading to arrest and conviction. Look for implementing Rules from the WRC in the near future.

Hunting and Fishing License Fee Increase – In the last hours of the session, a license fee increase was enacted. The most popular license is the Annual Sportsman License which went from $40 to $50. The Annual Hunt License went from $15 to $20 as did the Annual Fishing License. The Lifetime Sportsman for 65 year old residents did not increase in price but the age was raised to 70. Persons born on or before August 1, 1953 will remain eligible for the lifetime license at 65. There was no increase in the fee for Resident Infant ($200), Youth ($350), or Adult ($500) Lifetime Sportsman Licenses. All County Hunting and Fishing Licenses were eliminated. Another significant change is that from now on the license issuing fee to agents, which is $2, will be added to the cost of a license to be paid by the buyer rather than deducted from the proceeds. There are too many license fees changes to list here, but you can go to the WRC website ( www.ncwildlife.org ) to get a new schedule of license fees. The license fee increase does not take effect until August 1, 2014. The WRC was given authority to set future license fees by rule after January 1, 2015 based upon the five year average cost of living index.

Black Bear Stamp and Baiting – In this same license fee bill, a new stamp required to hunt black bear was created at a cost of $10. Persons who have procured a Lifetime Hunting or Sportsman License prior to July 1, 2014 do not have to pay the $10 fee but they do have to register for the Stamp and carry the validation with them when hunting black bear. The funds from this special stamp will be used for black bear research and management. Also in this legislation, the WRC was given authority to allow taking black bear with the use of bait provided that no rule can allow the use of scents or allow shooting a bear while consuming bait.

Wildlife Budget – The WRC General Fund Appropriation was cut from over $18 million to $13 million in 2014 and $15 million in 2015.  Also a provision was enacted to provide for further reductions in the General Fund Appropriation if the WRC accumulates over 25% of its annual budget in its credit reserve.  If the Wildlife Endowment Fund balance exceeds $100 million, the Commission must allocate funds in the amount of 50% of the annual expendable interest to its annual budget.  These provisions are better than what was proposed in the Senate budget.

Motorboat Fees Increased to Pay for Dredging – In the waning hours of the Session, the conference committee working on the State Budget included a large motorboat fee increase to pay for dredging shallow water channels on the coast and inland lakes. Annual vessel registration fees were increased from $15 to $30 for vessels less than 26 feet. The annual registration fee for vessels equal to or greater than 26 feet was raised from $15 to $50. The popular three year registration discounted option was eliminated. You can still get a three year renewal, but it will cost you three times the annual fee. One half of the vessel fee collection shall be used to create a Shallow Water Dredging Fund to be administered by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to dredge shallow water inlets and channels along the coastal and in some inland lakes. The vessel title fee was increased from $20 to $30 and the increase goes into this same fund. One sixth of one percent of the fuel tax will be added to this dredging fund too.

Penalties Assessed Upon Conviction of Boating and Wildlife Offenses – The penalty for operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs was increase to $250. Many of the minor offenses related to boating were reduced from misdemeanors to infractions, which includes a $50 penalty but does not have the cost of court added to the penalty. This will be a considerable savings to the boater. Many fines for wildlife offenses were increased significantly including the following:

  • Illegal sale of deer and wild turkey $500.
  • Illegal taking of elk $2,500.
  • Illegal taking deer from posted land without written permission $500.
  • Illegal taking deer with use of light $500.
  • Illegal taking any migratory game bird $250.
  • Illegal taking of bear with bait $250.

Land Conservation Trust Funds – Many ups and downs preceded the final resolution of the funding for the land conservation trust funds. The result was more money for the trust funds in both years of the biennium. The Clean Water Management Trust Fund got $12 million each year as did the Parks and Recreational Trust Fund. The Agriculture Farmland Preservation Trust got $1.7 million annually. The Natural Heritage Trust Fund was consolidated with CWMTF along with its vanity license plate revenue. The transfer tax on property was lost but we kept the authority to purchase new wildlife lands without a cap that was proposed. Over all it was a better result than in the last budget for land conservation.