The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission invites citizens to provide input on the upcoming migratory game bird hunting seasons through an online comment system on the agency’s website. Comments are submitted by going to www.ncwildlife.org and clicking on the “Migratory Game Bird Proposed Seasons” scrolling icon at the bottom of the page. Migratory game birds include waterfowl, doves, woodcock, rails and snipe. Comments on the season dates will be accepted through Apr. 9.
2017 marks the second year of a new regulatory schedule implemented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Previously, the schedule was divided into an early and late season process. The early cycle included seasons for webless species (doves, woodcock, etc.) and waterfowl seasons starting before October 1. Early seasons were normally approved by the Commission in early July. The late cycle included the traditional waterfowl seasons and were typically approved in late August.
The new regulatory process considers all migratory game bird seasons at once. The Commission will select the various season dates at their Apr. 20 meeting and publish the selected seasons in the 2017-2018 Regulations Digest, allowing hunters to make plans in advance of the seasons.
The Commission requests feedback on all migratory game bird seasons, but would like to highlight the season for brant. This year, federal brant season frameworks will allow a 60-day season with a two-bird daily bag. While the currently approved Atlantic Flyway Brant Hunt Plan allows this season, the Commission is increasingly concerned with the status of brant in North Carolina.
Brant are found almost exclusively along the Outer Banks portions of Dare and Hyde counties. State surveys, along with information from local guides and hunters, indicate that brant numbers have fallen dramatically in recent years. As an alternative to the 60-day season allowed by federal frameworks, the Commission seeks feedback on a reduced brant season that overlaps the third segment of the duck hunting season. This would represent no change from the previous hunting season.
Public-input meetings have traditionally been held to receive comments on waterfowl seasons. However, attendance at these meetings declined over time, and public input was minimal at most locations. As a cost-saving measure and to create an easy means for statewide citizen input, the agency developed an online comment system several years ago.
The Commission’s website also lists the federal frameworks from which seasons may be selected and a direct link to a map of North Carolina’s Canada goose hunt zones. For more information on migratory game birds in North Carolina, click here.