N. C. Wildlife Update - 06/30/2011

Upcoming Meetings

2011 Waterfowl Conservation Stamp and Print Available July 1
Help support the conservation of waterfowl habitat in North Carolina by purchasing a 2011 Waterfowl Conservation Stamp and Print, which goes on sale July 1.

The acrylic painting, “Canadas in Pasture” by Delaware artist Richard Clifton, depicts a pair of Canada geese standing in a pasture. Signed and numbered regular edition prints with mint stamps are $145. The collector’s mint stamp is $10. Purchase your print today to help conserve waterfowl populations for tomorrow.

Small Game Award Nominations Sought
Do you know an individual or an organization whose actions significantly and positively impact North Carolina’s small game populations, including Northern bobwhite, ruffed grouse, squirrel and rabbit?
Nominate them for the Lawrence G. Diedrick Small Game Award. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is accepting nominations for this annual award until Aug. 1, 2011.
For instructions on making a nomination or for more information about the award, see the news release.

Wildlife in North Carolina Magazine Reminder
Beginning with the July issue, Wildlife in North Carolina magazine is adopting a new publication schedule of six issues a year, plus two special editions in the spring and fall devoted to hunting, fishing and boating. The special editions also will contain advertising. To subscribe, go to our website or call 1-866-945-3746. For advertising inquiries, please call 919-707-0176.

Photo Competition
The seventh annual Wildlife in North Carolina magazine photo competition is underway and open until Sept. 1, 2011. All winners will be published in the January/February 2012 issue of Wildlife in North Carolina and exhibited at the Museum of Natural Sciences and at other science museums and wildlife education centers across the state. Photos will be judged in 8 categories, with youth divisions for 12 and younger, and 13 to 17 year olds. For more information, see “2011 Photo Competition” on our website.

Fox Sightings
The Commission is once again reminding residents that seeing a fox may not be reason for alarm. Foxes sighted in urban and suburban settings are not necessarily rabid or dangerous, and residents can take a few simple steps to avoid conflict with these animals.

You should not approach foxes or fox dens, even if they seem harmless. If the fox makes a den for pups, do not disturb them. Do not approach, touch or feed the fox or its pups.

For more information, download “Coexisting with Foxes” from our website.

Gopher Frogs
The Commission is partnering with the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher to raise gopher frogs from one of the few remaining wild populations. 

Once common across the lower coastal plain and sandhills, gopher frogs have dramatically declined with the loss of Longleaf Pine forests. Today, only a handful of gopher frog populations persist on the larger publicly-managed lands in North Carolina.

To help raise awareness of this threatened species and the work to restore populations, the Commission is featuring the gopher frog on its N.C. State Fair button this year.

Learn more about this effort and other nongame species research and management on our website.  

On the Road, On the Water Campaign
The July 4th weekend is a busy time for boaters. This year the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, State Highway Patrol, Alcohol Law Enforcement and local police and sheriff offices, will work together in a special effort called “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive” to help ensure a safe holiday for travelers. Watch a video and learn more on our website.

Boat Ramp Etiquette

Wildlife officers with the Commission are reminding everyone to practice proper boat ramp etiquette this summer, be patient with others and obey regulations set for public boating access areas. Be safe and efficient in launching and retrieving vessels, and help keep ramps clean. Read the latest news release for more information and recommendations.

Don’t Forget Your Coastal Recreational Fishing License
Anglers headed to the coast this summer should go online to purchase their Coastal Recreational Fishing License to avoid potentially long lines at tackle and bait shops, sporting goods stores and other wildlife service agent locations.

A Coastal Recreational Fishing License is required for anyone 16 years and older to fish recreationally in the state's coastal fishing waters, which include sounds, coastal rivers and their tributaries out to three miles into the ocean. Recreational anglers who catch fish in federal waters (from three miles to 200 miles offshore) also need this license prior to leaving the dock in North Carolina. The license is also needed to transport fish into North Carolina waters.

Anglers can also purchase a coastal fishing license by:

July 4 is Free Fishing Day in North Carolina

July 4 is a free fishing day in North Carolina when everyone — residents and non-residents — can fish in all public waters, including coastal waters, from 12:01 a.m. until 11:59 p.m., without purchasing a fishing license. While a license on this day is not required, all other fishing regulations, such as length and daily possession limits, as well as bait and tackle restrictions, apply.

Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education
A James Best decoy exhibit is now on permanent loan to the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education. The exhibit of swan and goose decoys, hunting equipment, head patterns and tools are on display in the gallery in the Center and the entire collection of James Best decoys, tools and carving equipment are planned for a special exhibit this fall. James B. Best (1866-1933) is thought by many to be the most talented decoy carver from North Carolina and his work is sought after by collectors from all over the country. Read more or call 252-453-0221 for more information.

Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education
A Week in the Water” program will meet Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to noon, July 11- July 15. Young people, ages 8-15, will enjoy a weeklong series of hands-on classes focusing on the art and skill of fly-fishing. Participants will learn about equipment, knots, casting techniques and spend the last two days of the week fishing on the river. Note: The Center requests that you do not sign up for this program if you have taken it previously. Contact: 828-877-4423

Kids’ Intro to Archery” on July 16 is a morning-long program devoted to learning about archery. Topics will include safety, variations in bows and arrows, and lots of time spent shooting at targets. The program is limited to 15 participants, ages 8-16.  Contact: 828-877-4423

Learn about fire arm safety and shooting on July 26. The “B.B. Gun Shooting Range” program will focus on firearm safety as participants learn about different types of fire arms, how to properly handle them, and have the opportunity to practice their shooting skills on an outside B.B. gun range. Participation is limited to ages 8-15. Contact: 828-877-4423.

Senate Bill 109 / Session Law 2011-15 “Spending Cuts for the Current Fiscal Year”
Required N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to return $3 million in 2010-11 funding.
Effective: 3/25/2011

House Bill 200 / Session Law 2011-145 “Appropriations Act of 2011”
Repeals current sales tax formula for Wildlife Resources Commission funding and appropriates $18 million for the 2011-2012 fiscal year for Commission operations. Also requires a continuation review for the Conservation Education section.
Effective: 7/1/2011

House Bill 927 / Session Law 2011-232 “State Pension Plan Solvency Reform Act”
Increases the vesting period from five years to ten years for individuals who become a member on or after August 1, 2011.
Effective: 8/1/2011

Senate Bill 686 / Session Law 2011-176 “2011 Appointment Bill”
Appoints the following to the Wildlife Resources Commission: Wendell Murphy, Jr., Thomas Berry, Mark Craig, Doc Thurston, John Clark, John Coley, Durwood Laughinghouse, Mitch St.Clair.
Effective: 7/1/2011

House Bill 762 / Session Law 2011-231 “Landowner Protection Act”
Defines written permission to hunt/fish on posted land as being signed and dated by the landowner/lessee/agent within the past twelve months. If permission has been granted to a hunt club, both permission and a membership must be on the person. Allows for an affirmative defense if someone had written permission but did not have it on their person. Allows for purple paint to be used for posting land. Wildlife officers are enabled to enforce trespass on site.
Effective: 10/1/2011

House Bill 29 / Session Law 2011-22 “Retrieval of Big Game”
A hunter may use a portable light source and a single dog on a leash to assist the hunter in retrieving a dead or wounded big game animal. A hunter may dispatch a wounded big game animal using only a .22-caliber rimfire pistol, archery equipment or a handgun legal for that season. Pursuit and retrieval may occur between 30 minutes after sunset and 11:00 p.m., but may not be accomplished using a motorized vehicle.
Effective: 10/1/2011

Senate Bill 406 / Session Law 2011-56 “Repeal Crossbow Purchase Permit Requirement”
Repeals the requirement that a person obtain a permit to receive, sell, purchase or otherwise transfer a crossbow.
Effective: 4/28/2011

House Bill 62 / Session Law 2011-24 “Prohibit Boylston Creek Reclassification”
Prohibits the rule to change the water quality classification to “trout waters” on Boylston Creek from becoming effective.
Effective: 7/1/2011

Senate Bill 68 / Session Law 2011-16 “Robeson Hunting and Fishing”
Prohibits hunting and fishing on the property of another without written permission in Robeson County.
Effective: 10/1/2011

House Bill 432 / Session Law 2011-369 “Swine in Transport/Regulate Feral Swine”
Prohibits the transportation of live swine, unless the swine has an official form of identification approved by the State Veterinarian. Also classifies all free-ranging mammals of the species Sus scrofa as feral swine, while deleting the definition of wild boar. Repeals the wild boar hunting license and defines feral swine as a non-game animal. Allows the Wildlife Resources Commission to adopt rules prescribing season and the manner of taking of wild animals and wild birds with the use of artificial light and electronic calls. Deletes the size restriction on pistols for non-game species, rabbits, squirrels, opossum, raccoons and fur-bearing animals. Repeals the requirement of wearing a hunter orange cap or garment in the hunting of feral swine. Makes it unlawful to remove feral swine from a trap, or transport it, while it is still alive.
Effective: 10/1/2011

Senate Bill 46 / Session Law 2011-32 “Surry Fox and Coyote Taking Season”
Establishes an open season for taking foxes and coyotes with lawful weapons or traps from October 15 through March 1 of each year. Applies only to Surry and Alleghany counties.
Effective: 4/7/2011

Senate Bill 261 / Session Law 2011-40 “Chowan Fox Seasons”
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, there is an open season for taking foxes with weapons and by trapping during the trapping season set by the Wildlife Resources Commission each year, with no tagging requirements prior to or after sale. No bag limit applies to foxes taken under this act.
Effective: 10/1/2011

House Bill 463 / Session Law 2011-136 “Rockingham/Taking of Foxes”
Establishes an open season on taking foxes with firearms, bow and arrow, or crossbow during any open small game season each year. Establishes an open season for taking foxes by trapping from November 1 through February 28 of each year. No bag limit applies to foxes taken under this act. No tags shall be required for the sale of the fur of foxes taken in accordance with this act.
Effective: 6/15/2011

House Bill 755 / Session Law 2011-380 “Study Fox Laws”
The Wildlife Resources Commission shall undertake a study of fox and coyote populations in the State and recommend management methods and controls designed to ensure statewide conservation of fox populations while managing adverse effects of coyote populations. In conducting the study, the Wildlife Resources Commission shall solicit input from interested stakeholders, including hunters, trappers, controlled hunting preserve operators, public health authorities, local governments, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and private landowners. The Wildlife Resources Commission shall complete its study by April 1, 2012, and submit a report, including any proposed legislation, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President  Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Chairs of the House Committee on Agriculture, and the Chairs of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources.
Effective: 6/27/2011

House Bill 650 / Session Law 2011-268 “Amend Various Gun Laws/Castle Doctrine”
Amends numerous State laws related to the ownership and possession of guns. It would also expand the “Castle Doctrine” to apply to a motor vehicle or the workplace.
Effective: 12/1/2011

Senate Bill 762 / Session Law 2011-356 “Assault on Law Enforcement & EM Worker/Felony”
Unless covered under some other provision of law providing greater punishment, a person is guilty of a Class I felony if the person assaults a law enforcement officer, probation officer, or parole officer while the officer is discharging or attempting to discharge his or her official duties and inflicts physical injury on the officer.  Also makes it a felony to cause physical injury to an emergency worker discharging his or her duties.
Effective 12/1/2011

House Bill 350 / Session Law 2011-274 “Property Tax Conformity for Conservation Land”
Clarifies and modifies the tax exemption for real property for educational and scientific purposes as a protected natural area by listing certain, enumerated conservation purposes. Creates a 5-year rollback for avoided taxes if conservation property is no longer used for conservation purposes, is used to generate income inconsistent with conservation, or is sold or transferred without an easement requiring perpetual use of the listed conservation purposes and without a prohibition on income generation. Expressly aligns definitions for educational and scientific purposes with the property tax exemption for property used for educational and scientific purposes. Requires, as does the income tax credit for real property donations for conservation purposes, that the entity owning the property must be "organized to receive and administer lands for conservation purposes". Adds the requirement that property qualifying under this exemption either not earn income or only earn income that is merely incidental to and not inconsistent with conservation purposes.
Effective: 7/1/2011

House Bill 506 / Session Law 2011-82 “Wrightsville Beach/Abandoned Vessels”
Within the Town of Wrightsville Beach and its extraterritorial jurisdiction, a vessel that is moored, anchored, or otherwise located for more than 30 consecutive days in any 180-consecutive day period in any waters or marshes waterward of the pierhead line as established by the Town of Wrightsville Beach is considered abandoned. Also, any vessel that is in danger of sinking, sinking, has sunk, is resting on the bottom, or is located such that it is a hazard to navigation or is an immediate danger to other vessels is considered abandoned.
Effective: 5/19/2011

House Bill 159 / Session Law 2011-35 “Military Service Notation on Licenses”
Requires the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles to make a notation on a North Carolina driver’s license showing a license holder’s military veteran status.
Effective: 7/1/2011

House Bill 407 / Session Law 2011-68 “Modify ATV Helmet Use Requirements”
Amends the ATV helmet law by requiring people 18 years old and over to only wear a helmet and safety gear when on a public street or highway or public vehicular area. Mandatory helmet and eye protection for under 18 years of age both on and off road.
Effective: 10/1/2011

House Bill 187 / Session Law 2011-25 “Require Labels for Ethanol-Blended Gasoline”
Directs the gasoline and oil inspection board to adopt rules relating to the labeling of dispensing pumps and other dispensing devices that offer ethanol-blended gasoline for retail sale in North Carolina.
Effective: 4/7/2011

House Bill 36 / Session Law 2011-263 “Employers & Local Gov’t Must Use E-Verify”
Requires counties, municipalities and private employers to use the E-Verify system to check the legal status of employees and contractors. Exemptions are set for private employers under 25 people or seasonal temporary employees who are employed for 90 for fewer days in a 12-month period.
Effective: Various