The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission voted yesterday on proposed rule changes to 39 agency regulations related to wildlife management, fisheries, game lands, and law enforcement for the 2017-18 seasons.
The effective date for these regulations is Aug. 1, 2017.
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
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 Raleigh, New Bern and Morganton in April, with exact dates to be determined.
Below are some changes that affect Watauga County:
– Modify the lower boundary of Hatchery Supported Trout Waters on Cove Creek in Watauga County adding approximately 1.8 miles of stream to Public Mountain Trout Waters. The designated reach will be from the S.R. 1233 bridge at Zionville to the S.R. 1214 bridge at Sherwood.
Justification: The landowner immediately downstream of the existing Hatchery Supported Trout Waters reach of Cove Creek requested that the designated reach 9 be extended to include the section adjacent to his property. The proposed change will provide additional angling opportunities on Cove Creek under Hatchery Supported Trout Waters classification.
– Modify the upper boundary of Hatchery Supported Trout Waters on Middle Fork New River in Watauga County removing approximately 1.0 mile of stream from Public Mountain Trout Waters. The designated reach will be from adjacent to the intersection of S.R. 1539 and U.S. 321 to the South Fork New River.
Justification: The proposed change will clarify the upper boundary of Hatchery Supported Trout Waters on Middle Fork New River, while more accurately reflecting the portion of the stream that is actually stocked and accessible to the public. The proposal will also eliminate possible angler confusion regarding the adjacent section of Middle Fork New River located on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
– Modify the upper boundary of Catch and Release/Artificial Lures Only Trout Waters on Laurel Creek in Watauga County and exclude all tributaries removing approximately 9.5 miles of stream from Public Mountain Trout Waters. The designated reach will be from the confluence of North and South Fork Laurel creeks to Elk Creek, excluding tributaries.
Justification: The landowners surrounding the upper reach of Laurel Creek no longer wish to allow public fishing access and have requested that the section be removed from Public Mountain Trout Waters.
– Remove 7.4 miles of Dugger Creek in Watauga and Wilkes counties from Public Mountain Trout Waters.
Justification: The landowners surrounding Dugger Creek no longer wish to allow public fishing access and have requested that the stream be removed from Public Mountain Trout Waters.
Create a third archery season segment in the Western deer season to open the Sunday immediately following the last day of gun season and close January 1 for antlered bucks only. Justification: This proposal would add about three weeks of additional archery hunting opportunity in the Western deer season and was requested by local hunters. A biological evaluation shows negligible impacts of this proposed change to the deer population in the Western deer season