After hearing public comments at nine such hearings across the state, the 19 WRC commissioners will meet in March and vote on whether or not to adopt the revised rules. If approved, the revised rules will go into effect July 1, 2007.
Of interest to both hunters and citizens in populated areas is a proposal that would establish a voluntary urban archery season for deer, open to cities, towns and villages that choose to participate.
A proposal of interest to bear hunters statewide would establish guidelines related to the prohibition on hunting bear with the aid of a baited site. Public hearing attendees will receive a handout that explains the proposal in greater detail and clarifies some issues related to bear baiting.
Other proposed hunting, fishing and trapping rules changes include:
• Opening spring wild turkey season the first Saturday in April through the Saturday of the fourth week thereafter at private lands in Bladen, Brunswick, Duplin, Pender and New Hanover counties.The spring youth-only turkey day would be the last Saturday in March at private lands in these counties.
• Opening all game lands during spring youth-only turkey day. However, Croatan, Holly Shelter, North River, Van Swamp and the Singletary tract at Bladen Lakes only would be open to youths on a permit basis.
• Allowing bow and arrow as a weapon during the muzzle-loading deer season.
• Implement a two-buck bag limit for those areas within the Central deer season currently under a four-buck bag limit.
• Define a field-trial participant as a judge, handler, scout or owner. Other persons attending a field trial will be observers and will not need a hunting license.
• Establishing an 8-inch minimum-size limit and a 20-fish-per-day creel of black and white crappie in all public fishing waters west of Interstate 77, coastal rivers and waters east of I-95 with the exception of Tar River Reservoir in Nash County and Sutton Lake in New Hanover County.
Additional information about the proposals is available online at www.ncwildlife.org.
Anyone who is unable to attend the hearings can still be heard. Comments can be submitted online at www.ncwildlife.org or in writing to 1701 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1701.
All nine public hearings will begin at 7 p.m. the following dates and locations:
* Jan. 8: District 4, Dublin, Bladen Community College, Auditorium.
* Jan. 10: District 5, Graham Courthouse.
* Jan.11: District 6, Norwood, South Stanly High School.
* Jan. 16: District 8, Valdese, Heritage Middle School.
* Jan. 17: District 9, Cullowhee, Ramsey Center, Western Carolina University.
* Jan. 18: District 7, Boonville, Starmount High School.
* Jan. 23: District 1, Edenton, Swain Auditorium.
* Jan. 24: District 2, New Bern, Courthouse.
* Jan. 25: District 3, Louisburg, Annex Building, District Court Room.