By Jesse Wood
Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is asking supporters to reach out to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission prior to a Dec. 1 vote on captivity/enclosure regulations that could affect operations on Grandfather Mountain and spell the end of habitats for cougars, bears and otters on the mountain.
In a Nov. 20 letter to Grandfather Mountain supporters, Jesse Pope, the executive director of Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, said that the habitats on the mountain are facing a “unique threat” if the proposed regulations aren’t amended.
“Under new captive animal regulations being proposed by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Grandfather Mountain would be faced with undertaking major, cost-prohibitive and aesthetically damaging renovations to its habitats, some of which were recently remodeled to exceed 2017 standards,” Pope wrote. “If this proves unfeasible, the mountain would potentially have to find new homes for a number of its animals, some of whom have spent a lifetime on the mountain.”
Grandfather Mountain’s current viewing areas, Pope wrote, allow guests to see animals up-close in their native habitat. Meanwhile, the enclosures are built large enough so animals can roam and even seek out privacy if they choose.
“There is, however, a possible solution,” Pope wrote. “The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation — the nonprofit organization that oversees the popular Linville, N.C., nature preserve and attraction — is reaching out to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission during its public comment phase, which ends Dec. 1, offering suggestions, amendments and alternatives to the proposed regulations.”
While private attractions like Grandfather Mountain aren’t grandfathered in to the current rules, state-run and publicly-operated zoos are exempt from the new proposal.
Supporters are asked to submit comments advocating for changes to the proposed regulations by phone and email. Public hearings were previously held in Raleigh, New Bern and Statesville in late October and early November.
Comments can be made no later than Dec. 1, 2017 online at ncwildlife.org/proposedregulations, by email at [email protected], in writing to Rule-making Coordinator, 1701 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1701.
If you want a hand in writing a letter standing with Grandfather Mountain, click this link to download, sign, date and email a pre-written word document to [email protected]: http://bit.ly/2mJwnaK.
The deadline to comment is Dec. 1.
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