Rep. Jimmy Dixon (R-Duplin/Wayne) has introduced a bill that could change and add to responsibilities of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
Dixon, a farmer from Warsaw who has served three terms in the N.C. House of Representatives, placed the Outdoor Heritage Act (HB 640) in the hopper on April 13.
Because Dixon is chairman of the N.C. House Agriculture Committee, his bill will almost certainly be heard before the full committee, the last step before receiving a House hearing and vote — instead of being tabled in a sub-committee. Rep. Marvin Lucas (D-Cumberland), Rep. Chris Malone (R-Wake) and Rep. Michele Presnell (R-Haywood/Madison/Yancey) are primary co-sponsors of the bill.
The bill, which has nine sections, would have wide-ranging effects and change some hunting laws that are responsibility of the Commission.
The first three provisions address or expand outdoor opportunities for youths under age 16; the final six change wildlife laws or create new ones.
In order, the bill’s provisions will:
* Create an “Outdoor Heritage Trust Fund” to encourage youths to engage in recreational activities such as hiking, horseback riding, boating, sport shooting, archery, camping, hunting, trapping and fishing, among other activities. The fund would be supported by voluntary $2 donations made by sportsmen who pay Commission fees, outdoor access fees from other groups and private donations.
* Establish an Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council within the Commission that will advise state agencies and the legislature on the promotion of youth-oriented outdoor activities. The 11-member council will have three members appointed by the senate leader, three by the house leader, three by the governor, one by the Commissioner of Agriculture and one by the chairman of the Commission. Terms will last four years.
* Expand access to public lands by examining ways public-land management affects outdoor recreational activities.
* Create a “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law that requires a two-year mandatory suspension of hunting or fishing license privileges for trespassing a third time or for negligent hunting.
* Allow seven-day (Sunday) hunting with any legal weapon on private land with permission of the owner, with the exceptions of no Sunday waterfowl hunting, no hunting deer with dogs on Sunday, and no hunting within 300 yards of a place of worship or accessory structure.
* Change the Commission rule that defines a bear cub as weighing less than 75 pounds. Current regulations describe a bear cub as weighing 50 pounds or less.
* Declare that the Commission may restrict or prohibit fox hunting with dogs anywhere in the state from April 1-August 1, and order the Commission to prohibit fox hunting at Bladen Lakes State Forest Game Land from April 1-August 1.
* Exempt landowner liability for anyone searching for lost hunting dogs and who may become injured at a landowner’s property while during a search for missing dogs.
* Make mandatory the wearing of body cameras by The Commission’s enforcement officers during execution of warrants and during undercover operations.