RALEIGH — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission voted recently on proposed rule changes to 39 agency regulations related to wildlife management, fisheries, game lands, and law enforcement for the 2017-18 seasons. Some of those changes add miles of fishing opportunities in the nearby region.
The effective date for these regulations is Aug. 1.
Of the 39 proposed rule changes presented during public hearings in January, 38 were approved. The one proposal that was not approved would have prohibited the use of archery equipment for taking nongame fishes on a section of Lake James (F15). This proposed change was designed to protect muskellunge during the spawning season. After hearing from constituents, wildlife commissioners recognized that stakeholders are working together to resolve those issues outside of rule changes and instead through angler education and signage on the lake.
Wildlife commissioners approved fishing proposals that will add 40 miles of wild trout waters to the agency’s Public Mountain Trout Waters program — 10 miles on Rendezvous Mountain State Forest Game Land in Wilkes County and 30 miles on Stone Mountain State Park in Alleghany County. The addition of these wild trout waters brings the total number of miles in the Public Mountain Trout Waters program to more than 5,300 miles.
Wildlife commissioners approved three regulations that redefine youth as anyone under 18 years old for the purpose of allowing youth to participate in the youth either-sex deer hunts (H2), Youth Deer Hunting Day (H2), Spring Youth-only Wild Turkey Season (H2), Delayed Harvest Trout Waters Youth-only Season (F9), and any youth hunts on game lands (G2). This new definition applies only to the age for the youth hunts and the youth fishing season listed above. For license purchases, youth continues to be defined as anyone 15 and younger.
Among the eight wildlife management-related changes that were approved, was one that would eliminate the use of paper Big Game Harvest Record sheets (H7). Hunters will begin reporting their big game harvest either by phone or Internet, starting with deer season this fall. This change completes the conversion of big game harvest reporting from paper to an electronic registration system, which began with turkey harvest reporting in 2003.
To view the full text of all 39 regulations, download the public hearings booklet.
In addition to voting on the above regulations, wildlife commissioners approved three water safety rules:
• A no-wake zone on Lake Tillery in the vicinity of the Lilly’s Bridge Boating Access Areas and the Route 1110 bridge, in Montgomery County
• A no-wake zone in the portion of the canal at Dolphin Bay Estates in the Town of Cedar Point
• Technical changes to clarify text for no-wake zones in New Hanover County
Water safety rules will go into effect April 1. Read full text of the three water safety rules.
Wildlife commissioners also approved taking to public hearings, proposed modifications to the state protected animal list for 37 wildlife species. Public hearings will be held in Raleigh, New Bern and Morganton in April, with exact dates to be determined.