Wildlife Commission Email Updates

Sign up today, your next adventure is just outside!

Get the latest from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission sent right to your inbox. Three lists to choose from. Subscribe to one or all emails. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission values your privacy. The email you provide will never be shared or sold to a third party.

 

  • N.C. Wildlife Update: Our monthly e-newsletter designed to keep North Carolina hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts informed of agency-related news on hunting, fishing, trapping, and boating, legislative updates, news releases, classes, workshops and other events hosted or sponsored by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.  
  • Upland Gazette: Our e-newsletter, published each spring and fall for anyone interested in wildlife species and the habitats they need in the Tar Heel state.
  • NCWRC Rulemaking: Periodic emails advising the public on pending rulemaking by the agency.

 

Note: To unsubscribe, manage your email subscriptions and profile please click the (Manage Your Subscriptions) link at the bottom of every email we send. For further unsubscribe or email profile assistance, please contact: unsubscribe@ncwildlife.org.

2022 N.C. Wildlife Updates

Aug. 5, 2022

75th Anniversary Spotlight: Celebrating 75 Years of Law Enforcement Off the Pavement

Last month, Captain Jeremy Harrill, a 19-year veteran wildlife law enforcement officer, presented an awe-inspiring history of the agency’s law enforcement division. In a span of 75 years, law enforcement has been critical in assisting each division achieve successes by enforcing the regulations set by the Wildlife Commission to conserve our state’s natural resources.

In 1947, 104 wildlife protectors were hired; by 1948 a game warden was present in all 100 counties. Today, we have 210 officers across the state.

In 1950, the first class of the Wildlife Protection School graduated from formal training. Last month, 15 officers graduated from the 58th basic school and are now immersed in six months of on-the-job training before taking their final posts. With over 700 recruit applications received for the 59th basic school in 2023, the future of wildlife law enforcement is bright.

 

2022-23 Regulations Digest Now Available

New regulations related to hunting, fishing, trapping and nongame species in North Carolina were released on Aug. 1. Hard copies of the 2022-23 Regulations Digest are now available at your local Wildlife Service Agent’s office, or you can view it online and download it as a PDF

 

 

Dove Season Opens Saturday, Sept. 3

The 2022-23 dove hunting season will be separated into three segments:

Sept. 3 - Oct. 1

Nov. 5 - Nov. 26

Dec. 10 - Jan. 31

  • Daily bag limit is 15 mourning or white-winged doves, either as a single species or combined.
  • Shooting hours are from 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.
  • Hunting of migratory game birds, including doves, by any method, is not allowed on Sundays.
  • Be sure to have your Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification up to date.
 

Dove Field Reminders

It is illegal to take migratory game birds with the use or aid of salt, grain, fruit or any other bait.  An area is considered baited for 10 days following the removal of all salt, grain or other feed. Migratory game birds may be hunted in agricultural areas where grain has been distributed as the result of normal agricultural operations. Information regarding agriculture and planting techniques may be obtained from a local N.C. Cooperative Extension Center.

 

Make Safety a Priority

Whether you’re gearing up for hunting season or making plans to hit the water, make safety your priority while recreating. A variety of safety courses are available to ensure everyone has an enjoyable time outdoors.

On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive.

Wildlife law enforcement officers will conduct increased safety checks at recreational areas statewide over Labor Day weekend starting Sept. 2. Please designate a sober boat operator and ensure everyone has a life jacket!

 

Archery Deer Hunting Season Opens Next Month

All regions will open to archery deer hunting season on Sept. 10. Legal weapons include bows and arrows, crossbows and slingbows. The season and possession bag limit is six deer, two of which may be antlered, and four of which may be antlerless. There is no daily bag limit. Make sure you have your Big Game Harvest Report Card ready!

 

Know CWD: Surveillance Area Reminders

The first deer to test positive for CWD in North Carolina was harvested in Yadkin County last season. The positive detection set in motion new regulations in established surveillance areas in the northwestern region of the state. Eight counties fall within the Primary and Secondary CWD Surveillance Areas. See map.

Please note that in both Surveillance Areas (SA):

  •  Prohibitions on wildlife feeding and fawn rehabilitation remain in effect.
  • Wildlife feeding will be legal in the SA Sept. 1 – Jan. 1, 2023, and for the purpose of hunting within the established urban archery season in participating municipalities.
  • Deer hunters should be aware of carcass transportation restrictions and mandatory testing requirements during blackpowder and gun seasons.
 

Salvaged Fishing Access Area is Now Open

The Old Highway 601 Public Fishing Area near Dobson is the newest access site along a network of access points on the Fisher River thanks to a herculean effort from a broad coalition of partners —Surry County, the Wildlife Commission, Duke Energy, the N.C. Department of Transportation and others. In 2020, the site was days from opening when flood waters washed away the parking lot and undermined the concrete stairs. The site is fully restored with a paddle boat launch and wade fishing opportunities. (Try for smallmouth bass and redbreast sunfish!) Nine standard parking spaces and one ADA-compliant parking space are available.

 

Trash Getting into the Wrong Paws

Reports of bears with containers stuck on their heads and around their necks and limbs have recently increased. Bears are motivated by food and food smells, like the bottom of an empty cheese ball barrel. This curiosity can get them in big trouble, causing harm and potentially ending in death. If you live or visit areas where bears reside, always secure your trash and recycling to keep bears out. Please follow the BearWise Basics at home and outdoors.

 

Forty Years of the Waterfowl Stamp and Print Program

The 40th and final edition of the waterfowl print and stamp is now available while supplies lasts. The artwork features a pair of wood ducks painted by artist Ron Louque. Since 1974, Louque has received national recognition and many awards for his art. He is most revered for his record of 31 State Conservation Stamp Contest wins, and crowning achievement of winning the 2002 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest for the 2003 Federal Duck Stamp. Although it was a difficult decision, the Wildlife Commission joins many other states as they retire their waterfowl stamp programs. The print is $135 plus tax, and the stamp is $13 plus tax.

 

Extinct Woodpecker has a Doppelganger

North Carolina once had two species of large woodpeckers, but now there is only one. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it was finalizing a proposal to remove the extinct ivory-billed woodpecker from the endangered species list. The ivory-billed was a magnificent, crow-sized bird that inhabited the forests of southeastern North Carolina. Unfortunately, this bird has not been seen in the state since the 1940s. However, it has a look-a-like that is still very common in our region — the pileated woodpecker. The pileated woodpecker is present in all 100 counties and just as large and magnificent as the ivory-billed. 

 

September Season Openers

Migratory Game Birds

Canada Goose – (September season) - Thursday, Sept. 1 

Doves - Saturday, Sept. 3

King & Clapper Rails, Sora & Virginia Rails, Gallinule & Moorhens - Saturday, Sept. 3 

September Teal - Tuesday, Sept. 13

Big Game

White-tailed deer (archery) - Saturday, Sept. 10

 

National Hunting and Fishing Day Events Announced

Save the date for the Wildlife Commission’s National Hunting and Fishing Day celebrations on Saturday, Sept. 24. A full day of family-friendly activities are planned at both the newly renovated John Lentz Hunter Education Complex (Ellerbe) and the John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center (Fayetteville). More details will be shared as the date nears. Stay tuned! 

 

Family Fishing Workshop

The Family Fishing Workshop at the Pechmann Fishing Education Center teaches families with children the basic skills needed to go fishing, from casting to catching and cleaning your fish. Whether you’re a first-timer or expert angler, the workshop immerses everyone in a hands-on learning experience that will create life-long memories. Register now for the next workshop on Saturday, Aug. 13, 9 a.m. – noon.

 

Upcoming Events, Classes, Workshops & Programs

Aug. 9, Introduction to Deer Hunting, webinar, 7 – 8 p.m.

Aug. 11, Practical Deer Processing: From Field to Freezer, webinar, 7 – 8 p.m.

 

Ongoing classes and podcasts: 

Free Public Fishing Classes for All Ages and Abilities, Statewide

Better Fishing with 2 Bald Biologists, listen & subscribe on your favorite podcast service 



 

(Left) Wildlife Conservation Technician Clifton Avery works up a golden-winged warbler; (right) A tagged golden-winged warbler before being released

Species Spotlight: Golden-winged Warbler

This spring, wildlife diversity staff captured and color-banded 22 golden-winged warblers in the Cheoah Mountains (Graham County) for a study led by the University of Maine to better understand annual survival of this rapidly declining migratory bird.

Between summer jaunts to western North Carolina to nest in brushy field habitat or patches of recently logged forest, golden-winged warblers make a 2,000-mile trip to their wintering grounds in the Andes Mountains of northern South America. Quality habitat is needed at each leg of the journey.

Wildlife Commission staff deployed 12 birds with nanotags, a type of coded radio transmitters that are detectable on the Motus Wildlife Tracking Network. Hopefully the tagged birds are picked up on Motus receiver stations during migration and at their overwintering sites in Colombia and Venezuela. Staff will search for both tagged and color-banded golden-wings next year when the birds return to nest in the Cheoah Mountains. The data collected will help to determine whether to federally list the species. It’s already a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in North Carolina. This 5-minute video by SELVA, a partner organization, provides a peak into their journey. Enable English subtitles under settings.

 
FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube

Aug. 1, 2022 Special Dove Hunting Edition

Season Opener: Dove Hunting

A guide to dove hunting in North Carolina

 

The 2022-23 dove season (includes mourning and white-winged doves) opens on Saturday, Sept. 3.

Dove Season Dates

Dove season will be separated into three segments:

Sept. 3 - Oct. 1  

Nov. 5 - Nov. 26 

Dec. 10 - Jan. 31

Make sure you're prepared!

  • Buy or renew a license online, at a Wildlife Service Agent office or call 888-248-6834 , 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.
  • Obtain your HIP certification if hunting migratory game birds, including doves. It’s mandatory and free*! It can be acquired by the same methods as getting a license.
  • Review the 2022-2023 N.C. Regulations Digest, available in print at your local Wildlife Service Agent, or download a copy online. The guide provides important information about season dates, bag limits, hunting licenses, game lands, regulations and more.

* Wildlife Service Agents may apply a $2 processing fee.

Dove Bag Limits and Regulations

  • Daily bag limit is 15 mourning or white-winged doves, either as a single species or combined.
  • Shooting hours are from 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.  
  • Hunting of migratory game birds by any method is not allowed on Sundays.  
  • It is illegal to hunt doves with a shotgun of any description capable of holding more than three shells, unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler incapable of removal without disassembling the gun, so its total capacity does not exceed three shells.
 

Baiting is Illegal

It is illegal to take migratory game birds with the use or aid of salt, grain, fruit or any other bait.  An area is considered baited for 10 days following the removal of all salt, grain or other feed. Migratory game birds may be hunted in agricultural areas where grain has been distributed as the result of normal agricultural operations. Information regarding agriculture and planting techniques may be obtained from a local N.C. Cooperative Extension Center.

 

New HIP Information

New this year, HIP certification is available July 1 – April 1 and will expire June 30 annually. Migratory game bird hunters, including lifetime license holders, are required to register in the federal Harvest Information Program (HIP). HIP is a survey method developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to collect more reliable estimates of migratory game bird harvests throughout the country. 

 

Where to Hunt

To locate dove fields on game lands, you can search the Wildlife Commission’s interactive Game Land Maps by county and address, and filter them by species or facilities. Printable maps are also available.

 Game Land PDF Maps:

Mountain Region

Piedmont Region

Coastal Region

 

Other Migratory Game Bird September Season Openers

Thursday, Sept. 1 

  • Canada Goose (September season)

Saturday, Sept. 3 

  • King & Clapper Rails
  • Sora & Virginia Rails
  • Gallinule & Moorhens

Tuesday, Sept. 13

  • September Teal 
 

Home from the Hunt Reminders

  • Adhere to established safe zones of fire.
  • Ensure you have the correct ammunition for your firearm.
  • Keep the muzzle of your firearm pointed in a safe direction.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  • Do not shoot at low-flying birds.
  • Do not place decoys on utility lines. 

If you see a wildlife violation in progress, call 800-622-7137 anytime. 

To report wild animals that appear to be sick or diseased, call the NC Wildlife Helpline

at 866-318-2401, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. 

 
FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube

July 15, 2022

75th Anniversary Spotlight: A Bird’s Eye View of Wildlife Law Enforcement

From the agency’s inception, Wildlife Law Enforcement Officers knew they had an advantage enforcing hunting, boating, trapping and fishing regulations with a bird’s eye view. Aircraft technology has greatly advanced since the first agency pilots took to the sky, and the Wildlife Commission continues to invest in tools to ensure officers can cover a large area in a short amount of time. Officers in the air use radio equipment, night vision and Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) technology to guide officers on the ground in their enforcement and rescue efforts.

The agency employs two pilots who fly Cessna 206H and a Maule MX-7-180. Not only do these officers assist in enforcing regulations and search and rescue efforts, but they also assist in assessing storm damage to game lands, conducting wildlife species counts and educational events.

 

Apply Now for Permit Hunting Opportunities

Applications for permit hunting opportunities are now available. These hunts provide unique opportunities for special areas and species. Apply online or in-person at a Wildlife Service Agent. Application deadlines vary starting in August.


 

2022-23 Hunting Season Dates Released

The 2022-23 Regulations Digest will be released in a few short weeks. In the meantime, we’ve posted the most popular season dates on our website.

Deer     Bear     Turkey     Other Species

 

Turkey Harvest Totals

Wild turkey harvest remained strong in 2022, with 20,576 birds harvested. This was a slight decline from the 2020 and 2021 seasons, which were the two highest harvests on record respectively. Wild turkey harvest by county, game land and youth hunt can be viewed online.

 

Summer Wild Turkey Sightings

The Wildlife Commission is seeking the public’s assistance in reporting observations of wild turkey now through Aug. 31. The information from this survey provides insight into turkey reproductive success and population trends. Survey results from previous years can be found on the turkey webpage

 

Bear e-Stamp Holder Survey Closes Soon

The annual Bear e-Stamp Holder Survey will conclude Aug. 15. If you are a hunter, please complete the survey, even if you did not hunt bear in 2021. The information you provide will help guide management decisions for black bears and bear hunters and will be used to evaluate current and future regulations and statutes.  

 

Photography Contest Winner Announced

The winning image of the 2021-22 Wildlife in North Carolina Photo Competition is of two male hooded mergansers vying for the attention of a nearby female. The photograph was taken at Lake Betz in Morrisville by Jian Zheng of Cary. Out of 1,800 entries, Zheng took home the grand prize: $200 and the cover of the July/August magazine.   

 

New Kayak Launch in New Hanover County

An accessible and ADA-compliant kayak launch is complete at the Sutton Lake Boating Access Area in New Hanover County. This popular site now has a concrete accessible walkway, concrete abutment, floating dock and a vendor-supplied canoe/kayak launch. A 12-foot wide floating dock was specially constructed to allow for additional space for maneuverability and safety. A vendor-supplied launch and transfer bench were attached to the floating dock to allow for easier transfers for individuals with disabilities. Two additional accessible parking spots were added to the site, increasing the total number to four. 

 

Elsa Vue, from Connelly Springs (l ) and Carson Gates, from Kinston, (r) smile big after reeling in some nice catches during National Fishing and Boating Week.

National Fishing and Boating Week A Success!

Children across the state dropped their lines in the water at over 20 National Fishing & Boating Week events with the hopes of catching a big one — and big prizes! Congratulations to Elsa Vue, an 8-year-old from Connelly Springs, winner of a Lifetime Unified Sportsman License donated by Neuse Sport Shop; and kudos to Carson Gates, a 9-year-old from Kinston, who won a Lifetime Comprehensive Inland License donated by Trout Unlimited. Hopefully we’ve hooked a new generation of anglers!

Although a fishing license is NOT required for youth 15 & under, anglers who do need a license are encouraged to save time by purchasing fishing licenses online.

 

Rehabbers Know Best  

Each year, well-intentioned people “rescue” healthy young wildlife they mistake as orphaned or abandoned. If you find an animal that you feel needs help, leave it where you found it and contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator first. It is illegal in North Carolina to keep most wildlife species without a permit, and expert care (or often no care!) greatly increases a critter’s chance of survival. You can also contact the NC Wildlife Helpline, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at 800-318-2401 for advice. 

 

Women in Woodland Stewardship 

ForestHer NC is an organization that engages women in woodland stewardship. The first two presentations of its 2022 webinar series, ‘Conservation in NC’, are available on YouTube: Conversation on Conservation’ and ‘How your Land Matters in Conservation’. Two more webinars in the series will be held later this year: ‘Conservation in Practice (Sept. 8), and Taking Action: Where to Start (Dec. 8). 

 

Deer Hunting Resources

Two free hunting-related webinars will be offered in August that will be especially beneficial for individuals who are new to hunting and lack the social support for hunting: ‘Introduction to Deer Hunting’ on Aug. 9, and ‘Practical Deer Processing: From Field to Freezer’ on Aug. 11. Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and new regulations will be addressed, but not the main focus. To learn more about CWD, watch this 4-minute video, and visit ncwildlife.org/CWD

 

Gone Fishin' in Marion

Gone Fishin’ is a free beginner fishing class offered monthly to the public at the Marion Fish Hatchery. It’s common to hear kids, parents and grandparents squeal with excitement as they share first fishing experiences catching catfish, bluegill, and the occasional smallmouth bass or trout at the hatchery pond. Participants learn to set and control the hook, cast, walk with a rod, bring in a fish (without losing it), pick up and hold a fish, and take the hook out and release the fish. Equipment and supplies are provided.

 

Upcoming Events, Classes, Workshops & Programs

July 19, Pine Island Audubon Sanctuary Bird Walk, Corolla, 8 – 10 a.m.

Aug. 9, Introduction to Deer Hunting, webinar, 7 – 8 p.m.

Aug. 11, Practical Deer Processing: From Field to Freezer, webinar, 7 – 8 p.m.

Aug. 27, Introduction to Falconry Workshop, Raleigh, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Recorded Understanding our Wild Life webinar series, Public Policy in Conservation & Wildlife Management (Because Animals Don’t Listen), posted June 24 

 

Ongoing classes and podcasts: 

Free Public Fishing Classes for All Ages and Abilities, Statewide

Better Fishing with 2 Bald Biologists, listen & subscribe on your favorite podcast service 



 

Wavy-rayed Lampmussels shortly before being introduced into the Swannanoa River.

Wavy-rayed Lampmussels and Rainbow Mussels

Wavy-rayed Lampmussels and Rainbow mussels, among several other species, were once widespread in North Carolina, and were eliminated by dams and pollution over the last 100+ years. Recent improvements in water quality and hatchery techniques for growing mussels, as well as improvements in host fish populations, have enabled reintroduction of these species across western North Carolina (WNC). Reintroduction sites on rivers, like the Cheoah and French Broad rivers, have improved from nearly lifeless waters 50 years ago to places of recovery. In some reintroduction sites, you can find many luring mussels in the process of passing their genes to the next generation. Restoration of these species gives hope for further improving water quality and recovering these rare species in WNC. 

PBS North Carolina visited our staff in WNC to learn more about the importance of these freshwater mollusks in our state’s ecology.

 
FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube

June 10, 2022

75th Anniversary Spotlight: Summer Marks 75 Years of the Wildlife Commission

According to a 1947 newsletter called ‘Friend O’ Wildlife’ published by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Gov. R. Gregg Cherry announced the first appointments to the Wildlife Resources Commission on June 11. On June 18, the nine district commissioners came to Raleigh to be sworn in. Gov. Cherry then addressed the Commission, stating he wanted “the best game and fish program possible for North Carolina.” 

The Commission offices were established on the 5th floor of the Education Building in Raleigh and took over the administration of the Wildlife Resources on July 1. We got a kick out of reading this piece of history and think you will too.

 

Wake Responsibly

Lake season is here, and safety is imperative as wake sports continue to grow in popularity. When wakeboarding or wakesurfing, please follow these recommendations to “wake responsibly”:

  • Stay at least 200 feet from the shoreline, docks and other structures.
  • Keep music at a reasonable level.
  • Minimize repetitive passes on any one portion of the shoreline.
  • Don’t impede traffic. Wakesurfers usually travel at 10 to 12 mph. Avoid wakesurfing in congested areas.
  • Follow boating laws and navigation rules that apply.
 

July 4 is Free Fishing Day

A fishing license will not be required for anyone fishing on July 4, 12 a.m.-11:59 p.m., regardless of age. This applies to both residents and state visitors. Anglers must follow North Carolina fishing regulations, including length and daily possession limits and bait and tackle restrictions. Need equipment? Check out the Tackle Loaner Program.

Hooked already and need to renew?

Go online, call 888-248-6834 (Mon-Fri, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.) or visit a Wildlife Service Agent.

 

Delayed Harvest Trout Waters Are Open

Delayed Harvest waters are now open to trout harvest through Sept. 30. The daily creel limit is seven trout per day with no gear or bait restrictions and no minimum size limits. Trout fishing resources are on our website

 

Wildlife Law Enforcement: Take Your Career to Wild Places

Take your career off the pavement and into wild places as a North Carolina Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer. From the mountains to the coast, our officers patrol game lands, the state’s waters and more — even by air as seen in our 2-minute video. Applications for the 59th Basic Academy are now being accepted through June 30. Apply today or contact us by email or at 919-707-0030.

 

Operation Dry Water

Wildlife Law Enforcement Officers will be patrolling waters statewide to ensure boating safety is taken seriously over the July 4 weekend. Operation Dry Water is a national campaign that promotes sober driving while behind the wheel of a vessel. In 2021, 440 boating citations were issued and 51 people were removed from the water for boating under the influence during the holiday weekend. Designating a sober driver makes being on the water a more enjoyable experience for everyone. 

 

Confirmed Armadillos in Three New Counties

The nine-banded armadillo has been confirmed in 26 North Carolina counties. In 2021, Avery, Robeson and Rowan counties were added thanks to photographs and location observations reported by the public. Continued monitoring is essential to determining the armadillo’s range expansion and population in our state. Upload your observations to the NC Armadillo project website or email us a photo (if available), the date and time of observation, the disposition (alive or dead) and location (GPS coordinates preferred). 

 

Bear In Mind These Tips

Biologists in the field and at the NC Wildlife Helpline continue to encourage the public to implement BearWise Basics as bears become more active statewide. You can stay aware of bold bear activity by registering for the NextDoor app on your smartphone. If we get a report of concerning bear activity in your area, we’ll put out an alert.   

 

Coyotes on the Landscape

It’s peak pup season and keeping this year’s litter well-fed and healthy is top priority for adult coyotes. Coyote parents will roam large territories to find enough food — including populated areas. To help you avoid conflict with coyotes, Extension Biologist Falyn Owens offers these tips. 

 

Current HIP Certifications Expire June 30

Licensed hunters, including lifetime license holders, who plan to hunt migratory game birds (doves, rails, woodcock, gallinules and moorhens, snipe, or waterfowl) in 2022-2023 must renew their Federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification annually. The HIP certification is available from July 1 to April 1 and expires June 30 each year. Obtain your certification online, by calling 888-248-6834 or visit a Wildlife Service Agent.

 

Startown Elementary Earns National Ranking  

Startown Elementary (Catawba County) took 3rd place overall at the National Archery in the Schools (NASP) National Tournament in the IBO 3D event, where competitors shoot at 3-dimensional foam animal targets from varying distances.  Next stop is Worlds in Louisville, Kentucky this month.

 

Wildlife in North Carolina Magazine Customer Accounts Now Accessible Online 

Existing and new subscribers can now manage their Wildlife in North Carolina account easier than ever. Create an account online to update mailing addresses, check subscription expiration dates, renew subscriptions, give gift subscriptions and more. Call 800-786-2721 or email for customer assistance. 

 

Wildlife Diversity Program Quarterly Report

The Wildlife Diversity Program has released its 2022 first quarter report, featuring projects that target nongame animals and their habitats. Nongame species, such as deer, turkey, mountain trout and black bass, also benefit because they share many of the same habitats.

 

Supporting Special Olympics

On June 3, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Honor Guard and Col. Jon Evans participated in the opening ceremony of the NC Special Olympics Summer Games. Last month at Samarcand Training Facility in Jackson Springs, the colonel, along with Lt. Mark Dutton, Lt. Forrest Orr, Samarcand staff and N.C. Wildlife Basic Training Academy recruits participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run. Over $8,000 has been raised for Special Olympics in North Carolina by Wildlife Commission efforts this year, and fundraising will continue through the end of 2022. 

 

New Fire Extinguisher Requirements for Recreational Boaters

Effective April 20, 2022, the U.S. Coast Guard implemented a change in the fire extinguisher requirements for recreational vessels. If your vessel is currently required to carry a fire extinguisher, and the disposable (non-rechargeable) fire extinguisher has a date of manufacture stamped on the bottle, it is considered expired and must be removed from service if it is older than 12 years.

 

Pictured L to R: Cameron Ingram, Executive Director/Wildlife Commission; Monty Crump, Chairman/Wildlife Commission; Chad Thomas, Director of Development/NCMEF; and Brian McRae, Deputy Director, Operations/Wildlife Commission

New Partnership Enhances Coastal Water Access Areas

A joint venture between the Wildlife Commission and the N.C. Marine and Estuary Foundation (NCMEF) will benefit boaters, anglers and commercial fishermen at the coast. Together, our agencies will work to ensure clean, safe and convenient access at five of the coast’s largest public boating facilities located in Dare, Hyde, Carteret, New Hanover and Brunswick counties.

 

Camp Largemouth

Largemouth bass are America’s most popular game fish and for good reason —they are a lot of fun to catch. The Pechmann Fishing Education Center in Fayetteville will host a three-day youth camp focusing on bass behavior, habitat and seasonal movements, as well as various bass fishing techniques. Camp is Mon., June 20 – Wed., June 22, 9 a.m. – noon. Ages 14 – 17.

 

Volunteers Needed!

Several volunteer opportunities are available this summer to establish native aquatic vegetation by planting vegetation and building fenced enclosures. The work will be in water that could reach waist height. If interested, contact the lead person listed for details on individual lakes and scheduling.

Lake Gaston: June 21 – 23

Contact: Wally Sayko, Lake Gaston Association

Oak Hollow Lake, High Point: June 27 - 30

Contact: Seth Mycko, NCWRC    

Harris Lake: July 19 - 21, Aug. 1 - 3

Contact: David Belkoski, NCWRC    

Hyco Lake, Person and Caswell counties, July 11 - 14

Contact: Seth Mycko, NCWRC    

Lake Townsend, Greensboro, Aug. 15 - 16

Contact: Seth Mycko, NCWRC 

 

Upcoming Events, Classes, Workshops & Programs

June 24 - 26, NC Bird Atlas’ Big Atlas Weekend

August 27, Beyond BOW Shooting Sports, Durham, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Recorded Understanding our Wild Life webinar series, Largemouth Bass Movement at Lake Mattamuskeet and Associated Canals, posted June 8

 

Ongoing classes & podcast: 

John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, Fayetteville 

Western North Carolina Fishing & Aquatics Education Opportunities, Pisgah 

Better Fishing with 2 Bald Biologists, listen & subscribe on your favorite podcast service



 

Species Spotlight // Flying Squirrel 

The Carolina northern flying squirrel is one of two species of flying squirrel in our state and is federally and state listed as endangered. While they don’t truly fly, they do look like tiny superheroes when they leap from trees using their powerful hindquarters, stretch out their limbs and glide to the ground or a nearby tree. 

Wildlife Commission biologists found breeding among the rare species this winter while checking squirrel boxes to monitor populations in high peaks forests. This month, the pups should be 2 months old and beginning to jump and glide. Though independent at 3 months, they will remain with kin in groups called “demes.” 

Age is revealed by coat color and tail characteristics. Juveniles’ tails are relatively narrow with pointy tips and short, crimped gray hairs. Adults’ tails are wide with a square tip and have long, luxurious cinnamon brown hairs on top and pale chestnut hairs beneath.

 
FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube

May 20, 2022 Special Boating and Fishing Edition

There's Nothing Finer than Fishing and Boating in North Carolina

 

Fishing and Boating Week June 4-12   

Families coming together on the water is a sign of summer. The Wildlife Commission has promoted the benefits of fishing and boating over the past 75 years. Join us at any of our upcoming free, family-friendly fishing events and enter to win awesome raffle prizes, including lifetime licenses!

 

Renew or Buy Your Fishing License

 

Vessel Registration & Renewal

 

Where to Boat & Fish

Find over 200 free Boating Access Areas on over 100 bodies of water using our Boating Access Area Locator. Explore over 500 publicly accessible places to fish with any of our interactive fishing maps.

This 2 min. video will walk you through the process.

 

New Fishing Podcast

We convinced two Inland Fisheries biologists to get off the boat and step behind the mic to share their fish knowledge. ‘Better Fishing with 2 Bald Biologists’ drops a new episode each month! 

Let’s talk fishing!

Submit questions and feedback to: 2baldbiologists@ncwildlife.org

 

Delayed Harvest Trout Waters Open June 4

Trout streams and lakes classified as Delayed Harvest will open for harvest on June 4. Youth 17 years old and younger can fish from 6 a.m. to 11:59 a.m. on opening day. All other anglers can drop their lines in at noon. Fishing rules and regulations are available on our website

 

Preserve Your Life

Several drownings have occurred in North Carolina these past few weeks. The victims were not wearing life jackets. Safety should be a top priority when recreating on water, including wearing U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation devices (PFDs) when boating, swimming and fishing.

Wearing a PFD is just one of many safety measures to take when on the water. 

  1. Wear a life jacket or Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (PFD) at all times.
  2. Appoint a designated driver for the boat.
  3. Assign an adult “Water Watcher” to actively supervise children in or around the water at all times.
  4. Swim only in designated areas.
  5. Throw a floatation device, don’t go — you could go under too.
  6. Attend a boater safety course. Browse classes. 
 

Protect North Carolina's Waters

Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) can cause ecological harm and devastating economic impacts on our state’s waterways. Follow these four steps to prevent the spread of ANS.  

  • CLEAN equipment of all aquatic plants, animals and mud. 
  • DRAIN water from boats, live wells and all equipment. 
  • DRY all equipment thoroughly. 
  • NEVER MOVE fish, plants or other organisms from on body of water to another.
 

Dip Your Toes in the Water

The Wildlife Commission offers fishing and aquatic education classes for people of all ages and skill levels. 

FIND A FREE PUBLIC CLASS!

 

The Hook-Up

 

Nature in not a place to visit. It is a home.

- Gary Snyder

 
FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube

May 6, 2020

Migratory Game Bird Seasons Approved for 2022-23

The approved season dates, bag limits and applicable regulations for the 2022-23 waterfowl, webless migratory game bird (including doves) and extended falconry seasons have been released. Some notable changes were announced. Dates are available online and will be published in the 2022-23 Inland Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest this August.  

 

No Additional CWD Positives Detected in 2021-22 Deer Harvest

With 98% of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) test samples complete, no additional positive detections were reported since the announcement of the single deer in Yadkin County in March. Unfortunately, CWD is in North Carolina to stay, and immediate measures are necessary to improve testing efforts and reduce human-assisted spread of the disease. Temporary regulations for areas around Yadkin County have been proposed, and public comment will be accepted through May 20 online, by email, mail and at a public hearing on May 12 (in-person and virtual) at 7 p.m. Get to KNOW CWD with this 4-minute video

Did you attend or watch the KNOW CWD Public Forum on May 2?

We’d like your feedback. Take 2-minute survey.

 

Deer Harvest Summary Available

North Carolina deer hunters reported harvesting 168,427 deer during the 2021-22 hunting season — a 6.3% increase compared to the average harvest the last three seasons. Deer harvest also increased in all zones compared to a three-year average. Although the season’s harvest was just short of last year's final count of 169,973, it stayed robust, which is encouraging from a deer herd and hunter retention standpoint. 

 

Delayed Harvest Trout Waters Open June 4

Saturday, June 4, two lakes and 34 trout streams classified as Delayed Harvest will open to trout harvest and will remain open through Sept. 30. On opening day, from 6 a.m.-11:59 a.m., youth anglers under 18 years old will be allowed to fish. Harvest opens to all anglers at noon. The daily creel limit is seven trout per day with no gear or bait restrictions and no minimum size limits. Trout fishing resources are on our website.

 
 

75th Anniversary Spotlight: Tackle Loaner Program

The Wildlife Commission, through Sport Fish Restoration program federal funding, works with cities, counties, state parks, community centers and other entities across the state to provide anglers of all skill levels loaner rods, reels and tackle free of charge at about 60 Tackle Loaner Program (TLP) sites. It works like the library system — register and receive an ID card, check out gear at a participating location, return the gear and repeat at any TLP site.  

TLP sites are listed on the agency’s website and the interactive N.C. Fishing Access Maps. Anglers 16 & younger receive a free mini tackle box when they register. Adaptive fishing gear is available for disabled anglers at some sites.   

We are working to expand the TLP footprint, especially in the eastern part of the state. If you’d like to bring the TLP to your community, email Madeline David

 

National Fishing and Boating Week is June 4-12

May through June, family-friendly fishing events to celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week will occur at fishing holes across the state, offering young anglers the opportunity to reel in a big one. Raffle prizes for participants will be available, including the opportunity to win a Sportsman Lifetime License from Neuse Sports Shop and Comprehensive Inland Fishing Lifetime License from Trout Unlimited

 

Better Fishing with 2 Bald Biologists Podcast

We’ve convinced two of our Inland Fisheries biologists to get off the boat and behind the mic to share their fish knowledge. The inaugural 35-minute podcast covers all things striped bass on the Roanoke River Management Area — how to fish ‘em, why regulations have been so challenging and what’s to come. More great episodes will follow. A new episode drops each month! 

Let's talk fishing! Submit questions and feedback to: 2baldbiologists@ncwildlife.org.

 

National Safe Boating Week is May 21- 27

Most boating incidents reported to the Wildlife Commission last year happened in May, June and July. Of the 173 incidents, 19 were fatal — killing 23 people. Several of the deaths were alcohol related, and 16 people who died were not wearing personal floatation devices. Lives are saved when life jackets are worn and drinking while operating a vessel is avoided. Please practice responsible boating so we can all enjoy the water!

On the road, on the water. Don’t drink and drive.

The Wildlife Commission’s annual campaign to reduce alcohol-related incidents on the state’s roadways and waterways kicks off in advance of Memorial Day. Wildlife law enforcement officers, local and state law enforcement, NC State Highway Patrol, Alcohol Law Enforcement, NCDHHS-Forensic Test for Alcohol and Mothers Against Drunk Driving will all be working together to ensure the public remains safe this summer whether on the road or on the water. In addition, wildlife law enforcement officers will be conducting pre-launch safety checks at recreational areas around the state.

 

Springtime Wildlife Encounters

This time of year, it’s common to see baby rabbits nesting in yards, fledglings trying to fly and fawns left alone in the foliage. If you come across these cute critters, your natural response may be to want to help, but biologists urge that if you care, leave them there. 

 

Have You Seen Me?

 

Rattlesnakes: 

TimberCarolina pigmy and eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are in decline and protected by the N.C. Endangered Species Act. If you spot one of these rattlers, send an email to rattlesnake@ncwildlife.org with a photo (required), date and time the snake was observed and location (GPS coordinates preferred), or log your observation on the Herpmapper mobile app. Learn more about these ecologically important vipers. 

 

Pine Snakes: 

Pine snakes are a native, threatened species, and we’d like to know more about their distribution across the state. If you see one of these large reptiles in the wild, please send an email to pinesnake@ncwildlife.org, with a photo (required), date and time the snake was observed and location. You can also download the the HerpMapper mobile app and document your observations electronically. The agency partners with the app to track amphibian and reptile species. 

 

Chipmunks: 

Eight counties in North Carolina were added to the chipmunk’s range in 2021 thanks to observations submitted by the public. If you live in a county east of I-95 and observe a chipmunk (or, if you can't get a photo of the animal, the habitat in which you saw it), please take a picture, note the location (GPS coordinates preferred) and contact the NC Wildlife Helpline, 866-318-2401.

 

Being Bearwise

More people are living close to or in black bear habitat, creating increased opportunities for bears to approach their property, specifically by leaving out food sources. Residents and visitors to bear country, which is over 60% of the state, are encouraged to follow the Six BearWise Basics:

  1. Never feed or approach a bear.
  2. Secure food, garbage and recycling.
  3. Remove bird feeders when bears are active.
  4. Never leave pet food outdoors.
  5. Clean and store grills.
  6. Alert neighbors to bear activity.
 

National Police Week is May 15-21

Wildlife law enforcement officers have a unique job within the law enforcement community. They enforce laws that protect the public and North Carolina’s wildlife resources. Over 200 officers are committed to ‘Law Enforcement Off the Pavement,’ wearing the wildlife diamond proudly and going above and beyond to risk their safety in the interest of others and our wild places. Consider leaving a “shout out” on the agency’s Facebook page and take a moment to remember the 11 wildlife officers who died in the line of duty.

Considering a Career in Wildlife Law Enforcement?

Learn more at the Virtual Recruitment Event, May 26, 7 p.m.

REGISTER

 

Gray Stone Garnet Senior from Stanly County

Elkin Junior Wapiti from Surry County

YHEST Results

The 2022 Youth Hunter Education Skills Tournament (YHEST) state championships were held on April 30. Gray Stone Garnet Senior Team from Stanly County won the overall senior division and Elkin Junior Wapiti from Surry County won the overall junior division. Congratulations to all competitors!

 

New Shooting Range in McDowell County

McDowell County Parks and Recreation, in partnership with the Wildlife Commission, opened a new shooting range this week at 2880 Ashworth Road in Marion. It has four ranges: A 10 station 100-yard rifle range, a 12 station 25-yard pistol range, a practice archery range and a 3D target archery area.

 

Public Comment Requested on Wildlife Action Plan

A major revision to the 2015 Wildlife Action Plan has been proposed that will add plants to the list of North Carolina’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The addendum is in preparation for the anticipated passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which is proposed federal legislation with wide bi-partisan support that will include provisions for plant conservation. Public comment will be accepted through May 20.

 

RAWA Heads to the Congressional Floor

On April 7, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) passed the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee and passed the House’s Natural Resources Committee earlier this year. Now it heads to the congressional floor. Stay informed by following #RecoverWildlife on social media or visit Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife

 

A Little Help from our Friends

In the May/June edition of Wildlife in North Carolina, volunteers are the focus of the free article, Three Cheers for Our Volunteers. The Wildlife Commission would have a hard time conducting the various studies, programs and classes offered without a network of amazing volunteers to assist. The opportunities to get involved and share your love for the outdoors are limitless. 

 

Upcoming Events, Classes, Workshops & Programs

Virtual and in-person opportunities available!

May 11, NC Bird Atlas Info Session and Walk, Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, Corolla, 8:30 a.m.

May 12, NC Bird Atlas webinar: A Beginners Guide to Atlas Basics, 7 p.m.

May 19, NC Bird Atlas webinar: Bird Behavior Deep Dive, 7 p.m. 

May 20, NC Bird Atlas Observation Walk, Scuppernong River Boardwalk, Columbia, 7:30 a.m.

Recorded Understanding our Wild Life webinar series, posted May 2: Engaging North Carolina’s Trout Anglers & Other Stakeholders to Help Conserve Eastern Hellbenders

 

Ongoing classes: 

John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, Fayetteville 

Western North Carolina Fishing & Aquatics Education Opportunities



 

Species Spotlight: Leatherback Sea Turtle

The leatherback sea turtle is the largest turtle in the world and can weigh well over 1,000 pounds. Unlike other sea turtles, its carapace (shell) is a mosaic of small bones called osteoderms and is characterized by seven prominent ridges or keels, covered in a leathery skin. It feeds primarily on jellyfish and other soft-bodied prey.

Leatherbacks can occur in North Carolina’s coastal waters any time of year, but are usually observed during spring and early summer. Although they nest in larger numbers in the Caribbean, they will occasionally lay eggs at night on North Carolina’s open sandy beaches during the summer. Volunteers and cooperators with the NC Sea Turtle Project mark nests with a post, rope and signs during the two-month incubation period.

When hatchlings emerge from the nest at night, they scramble to the ocean and begin their developmental migrations until they reach maturity after 15-30 years. Help protect all sea turtles by not disturbing their incubating eggs and avoid using artificial lights at night on nesting beaches.

If you see a sick, injured or dead sea turtle in North Carolina, please call the NC Sea Turtle Hotline at 252-241-7367.

 
FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube

April 15, 2022 Special Striped Bass Fishing Edition

2022 North Carolina Striped Bass Harvest

The Roanoke River Management Area opens to striped bass harvest on Saturday, April 23.

Here’s what you need to know.

 

Striped Bass Harvest Dates on the Roanoke   

Anglers will be able to harvest striped bass on the entire Roanoke River Management Area, which includes tributaries from the Roanoke Rapids Lake Dam downstream to the Albemarle Sound, including the Cashie, Middle and Eastmost rivers. A new creel limit of one fish per day has been instated for this season. 

Harvest dates:

April 23 - 24 (Saturday & Sunday)

April 28 - 29 (Thursday & Friday)   

 

Weekly Fisheries Reports

Every week through the end of May, electrofishing for striped bass, American shad and hickory shad will take place in the Roanoke, Tar, Neuse and Cape Fear rivers. Sampling and creel survey results will be posted weekly.

 

Where to Fish

Search our interactive NC Fishing Access Map and tutorial video (2 min.) for specific waters or regulatory classifications, select counties of interest, find driving directions and much more.

Also, several Boating Access Areas (BAA) are available to enter the Roanoke, including a new option in Jackson between Weldon and Edwards Ferry.

 

Releasing Stripers Alive

Research shows that special hook regulations on the Roanoke River reduce injury and stress-induced mortality of released stripers. As a result, April 1- June 30, regulations require anglers to use a single, barbless hook upstream of the US 258 bridge. Replace treble hooks with only one single hook with the same total gap width. More information is available on our website.

 

River Herring Regulations Reminder

The 2021-22 North Carolina Regulations Digest states that anglers cannot harvest or possess blueback herring and alewife, known as “river herring,” greater than 6 inches in length in inland fishing waters of coastal rivers and their tributaries. This includes the Roanoke, Tar, Neuse, Cape Fear, Waccamaw and Pee Dee rivers up to the first impoundment of the main course of the river. Also, the Lumber River, including Drowning Creek, and all other inland fishing waters east of I-95. Contact the Division of Marine Fisheries for coastal water regulations.  

 

Why Another Limited Season?

The Roanoke River Striped Bass season was reduced in 2021 for both the commercial and recreational fisheries, and in 2022. Ben Ricks, the Wildlife Commission’s coastal fisheries supervisor, helps sort through the history, science and facts that led the 2022 harvest decision in this blog post.

In the March/April edition of Wildlife in North Carolina, Editor Josh Leventhal hooks up with fisheries biologists to reel in the history and tradition of striped bass fishing on the Roanoke River. He explores the science behind why tough decisions were made about harvest season dates and fish limits and explains how smart management practices now will ensure rockfish stories for years to come. 

 

The Hook Up

  • Rules & Regulations - Everything you need to know for an enjoyable experience on the water is in the 2021-22 Regulations Digest.
  • Boating Education Courses - Courses are free, available in-person or virtual, and required if you were born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, and are operating a vessel propelled by a motor 10 HP or greater. Browse opportunities.
  • License Check - Make sure you have the right fishing license and that it’s valid. Purchase or renew online, at any wildlife service agent location, or call 888-248-6834, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday. 
 

Keep Our Waters Clean

Follow these four steps to help protect North Carolina’s waters from ecological harm & devastating economic impacts by preventing the spread of aquatic nuisance species (ANS).  

  • CLEAN equipment of all aquatic plants, animals and mud. 
  • DRAIN water from boats, live wells and all equipment. 
  • DRY all equipment thoroughly. 
  • NEVER MOVE fish, plants or other organisms from on body of water to another.
 

Get Excited!

Take in the sights and scenes of fishing the Roanoke with this video (2 min.) as you prepare for angling at the Rockfish Capital of the World.

 
FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube

April 8, 2022

CWD Confirmed in North Carolina

A sample from a hunter-harvested, white-tailed deer in Yadkin County has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). This is the first detected case of CWD in North Carolina and is very bad news; however, the Wildlife Commission has been preparing for CWD for decades and immediately activated its CWD Response Plan (revised in 2021).

The agency’s goal is to protect North Carolina’s deer herd and deer hunting culture, while working to slow the spread of CWD. A press release issued last week stated that to achieve this goal the agency will work with constituents and partners to implement the response plan and refine the long-term deer management strategy. Continuous information will be shared with constituents as it develops.

Now is an opportunity to get to KNOW CWD. The Wildlife Commission has created a video (5 min.) to explain the disease, surveillance efforts and how hunters can help going forward. Bookmark ncwildlife.org/CWD for a wealth of resources, including FAQs.

 

Wild Turkey Season Has Arrived

While youth turkey hunters have been at it since April 2, this Saturday, April 9, hunters of all ages statewide will be able to take one bird (male or bearded) per day, and a season total of two birds, one which may have been taken during the youth season. Be sure to report your Big Game Harvest if you’re successful! Track real-time harvest counts via our Live Harvest Reports portal.  Season ends May 7.

 

Taking Toms with Decoys

Whether running and gunning or sitting and waiting, understanding when and how to use decoys can contribute to your success. Wildlife in North Carolina Associate Editor Mike Zlotnicki explores the use of decoys in the March/April 2022 edition. 

 

HPAI Mortalities Reported

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) mortalities have been confirmed in multiple counties and in multiple bird species in North Carolina. These deaths follow a report from the Wildlife Commission that some waterfowl had tested positive for HPAI in January. Commercial flocks are also being affected. Please report odd wild bird behavior to the NC Wildlife Helpline, 866-318-2401. This includes:

  • Mortality event involving five or more waterbirds or waterfowl.
  • Mortality event of any size for raptors or avian scavengers.
 

Striped Bass Harvest on the Roanoke

The Roanoke River Management Area will be open for striped bass harvest four days this month, with a new creel limit of one fish per day. Harvest dates are:

  • April 23 - 24 (Saturday & Sunday).
  • April 28 - 29 (Thursday & Friday).

The area includes tributaries from the Roanoke Rapids Lake Dam downstream to the Albemarle Sound, including the Cashie, Middle and Eastmost rivers. 

 

Fishing Reports Now Available

Every week through the end of May, electrofishing for striped bass, American shad and hickory shad will take place in the Roanoke, Tar, Neuse and Cape Fear rivers. Check the Wildlife Commission website weekly for sampling and creel survey results. 

 

Bluegill Stocking at Lake Mattamuskeet

An overpopulation of common carp in Lake Mattamuskeet means more bluegill are needed to help control the numbers. Last month, Wildlife Commission staff and volunteers stocked bluegill (2 – 4 inches long) prior to carp spawning. The intention is for bluegill to prey on carp eggs and larvae and possibly spawn more themselves to continue predation.

In addition, US Fish and Wildlife Service refuge staff have installed primary barriers at four water control structures that have been instrumental in keeping adult carp out. These combined strategies should slow the recruitment of common carp and improve angler satisfaction.

 

Hatchery Supported Trout Waters Now Open

Approximately 1,000 miles of Hatchery Supported Trout Waters are now open and remain open through Feb. 28, 2023. Most trout are stocked April through June, with a few streams selectively stocked in July. Overall, staff will stock nearly 964,000 trout — 96 percent of which will average 10 inches in length, with the other 4 percent exceeding 14 inches in length.

 

Seen a Hellbender or a Mudpuppy?

As trout waters open, people visiting mountain streams in Western North Carolina are encouraged to keep their eyes out for mudpuppies and hellbenders. Both species of aquatic salamanders are listed as species of special concern, and biologists want to know more about their distribution and populations. Contact Conservation Biologist Lori Williams, or call the NC Wildlife Helpline, 866-318-2401, to provide details of your observations.

 

75th Anniversary Spotlight: State Listings and the Brown Pelican

In 1975, the N.C. Museum of Natural History hosted a symposium to create the first species account for the state under the categories endangered, threatened and of special concern. In 1977, the first state listed species were published and adopted by the Wildlife Commission.

One of those animals was the brown pelican. Because of the special attention then given to the wildlife management of this bird and the banning of pesticides that harmed their eggshells, nesting brown pelicans increased from about 80 pairs in the 1970s to almost 4,500 pairs in 2014.  

The brown pelican is now thriving in our state, and in 2017, agency staff, volunteers and partners banded 3,804 pelican chicks.  Important work like what was done for the brown pelican continues daily at our agency. Nearly 500 at-risk species have been identified in our state.

Monitoring Waterbirds in North Carolina (2 min.) shows how our biologists conduct surveys of waterbirds each year to monitor populations and inform management plans.

Do Your Part to Protect Endangered Wildlife!

Tax Day is April 18. Please consider donating a portion of or your full state tax refund to the

N.C. Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund.

 

Waterbirds Are Nesting

Watch your steps (and your dog’s too) for bird nests found directly on the sandy beaches or islands along the sound this April thru August. Nests can be difficult to see since eggs and chicks blend in with the sand. Wildlife Commission biologists and cooperators have marked known areas with posts and signage, but some areas may not be marked. Extra caution is appreciated! 

 

Atlantic Pigtoe and Henslow's Sparrow Conservation Efforts

Public input is requested on two draft Species Conservation Plans to help guide efforts to maintain and increase populations of the Atlantic Pigtoe and Henlow’s Sparrow. Comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. on May 5. Staff will present the draft plans to Commissioners for final approval this summer. 

 

RHDV2 Guidance

Recent positive Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus – Type 2 cases in domestic rabbits in eastern states, including Georgia and Tennessee, suggest that the virus will eventually make its way to our state. Updated guidance when purchasing and caring for rabbits is now available.  

 

Submit Alligator Sightings through iNaturalist



North Carolina residents and visitors who snap photos of wild alligators can share their observations with Wildlife Commission biologists through the NC Alligators Project. Upload photos from a computer at iNaturalist.org or download the free iNaturalist app for Android and iPhone. 

 

Wildlife Help is Just a Call Away

As critters become active this spring, the NC Wildlife Helpline is a valuable resource for wildlife questions and encounters. The call center is a centralized hub for the public to talk to experienced biologists about problem wildlife, animal health concerns and human-wildlife interactions (HWI). Which species get the most complaint/damage calls? In 2021, the top four calls were about fox, bear, raccoon and deer. The Helpline is available Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 866-318-2401.

 

Better Boating Access in Greenville 

An additional boat ramp and two courtesy docks, including an ADA canoe/kayak launch, were added to the boating access area at Sound Rivers in Greenville. These renovations, in partnership with the City of Greenville, should bring some relief to a congested site.

 

Road Tripping with the NC Bird Atlas

Two NC Bird Atlas (NCBA) field trips are scheduled in May at the coast. The NCBA is a five-year citizen science project that is about to enter its second year. Email Matthew Janson if you’d like to attend.

When: Wed. May 11, 8:30 a.m.

Where: Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, Corolla

What: Join us for a brief presentation about the NCBA and how to use the eBird app to record your sightings. Afterwards, we’ll practice atlasing at the grounds of the Wildlife Education Center and Corolla Village, then head north to the Currituck Banks Estuarine Reserve and the 4WD beach in Corolla (4WD required for driving on the beach).

 

When: Fri. May 20, 7:30 a.m.

Where: Scuppernong River Boardwalk, Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge (NCR) Visitors Center, Columbia

What: Join NCBA staff and volunteers as we observe the rich birdlife of the Scuppernong River floodplain from the elevated boardwalk at Pocosin Lakes NWR. Prothonotary and yellow-throated warblers will be nesting, and possibly woodpeckers. Seasoned atlasers and first-timers welcome! 

 

Reminders!

Nominate a candidate for the Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee. Deadline is April 30.

Nominate an individual or business for the Lawrence G. Diedrick Small Game Award. Deadline is May 1.

 

Upcoming Events, Classes, Workshops & Programs

Virtual and in-person opportunities available!

April 16, Basic Trapper Education Course, Durham

April 21, ForestHer NC, Conversation on Conservation Virtual Workshop

April 30, Youth Hunter Education Skills Tournament State Championship, John F. Lentz Hunter Education Complex, Ellerbe

Ongoing classes: 

John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, Fayetteville 

Western North Carolina Fishing & Aquatics Education Opportunities, Pisgah



 

Species Spotlight: Barred Owl

If there’s an owl in your neighborhood, it’s most likely a barred owl. This stout-looking bird is found across the state, has bold stripes (or barring, thus its name) on its throat and upper breast, a round face and dark brown- black eyes. It prefers wooded habitat, often near water, and hunts a variety of prey. Barred owl vocalizations ramp up in the spring, especially their courtship call that sounds like a monkey laugh. “Who-cooks-for-you” is another common call. They primarily nest in cavities but will also use platforms or adopt other nests made by other critters. The barred owl can live up to 18 years, grow up to 20 inches tall and has a wingspan of 42 – 44 inches. 

 
FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube

March 24, 2022 Special Wild Turkey Edition

2022 Turkey Hunting in North Carolina

North Carolina’s five-week wild turkey season opens in April. Review the current rules & regulations in the 2021-22 North Carolina Regulations Digest prior to heading out for the hunt.

 

Be Prepared: Check Your License & Big Game Harvest Report Card   

A harvest report card is furnished with the issuance of a Big Game Hunting License, but it is valid for only one hunting season, July 1 – June 30. Harvest report cards are free and also issued to license-exempt hunters. Be sure your hunting license and report card are valid before grabbing your turkey call and camo. 

 

Youth Turkey Season: April 2 - 8; Statewide Turkey Season: April 9 – May 7

The youth season is open to anyone under the age of 18. Hunters aged 16 and 17 must have hunting licenses. Youth under 16 are exempt from license requirements provided they are accompanied by a licensed adult who is at least 18 years old. Youth who have licenses or a hunter education card may hunt without adult supervision. 

All hunters must report their turkey harvest on a Big Game Harvest Report Card. Hunters are limited to two turkeys for the season, only one of which may be taken during the youth season.

 

Harvest Reports

If 2022 is anything like the last two years, it will be active. Nearly 22,000 turkeys were harvested in 2021, just short of the all-time record set in 2020. Wildlife biologists say the state’s turkey population remains strong, around 270,000 birds, despite the increased hunting pressure and harvest. Keep up with real-time harvest results via our online portal, searchable by region and county.

 

Where to Hunt

The Wildlife Commission manages over 2 million acres of public game lands throughout the state. Plan your hunt with our interactive game lands map. Search by county, address, or filter by species or facilities. You can also download printable game land maps by region.

 

Hunter Education

Hunter education is paramount for safety and an enjoyable experience. Free, in-person and virtual options are available for all ages. 

 

Safety Reminders

Safety is a priority while hunting. Heed these guidelines to ensure you come Home from the Hunt.

  •  Positively identify your target.
  • Make your position known to other hunters.
  • Never stalk a turkey or turkey sound.
  • Assume every noise or movement is another hunter.
  • Protect your back.
  • Shout STOP to alert approaching hunters.
  • Eliminate red, white, blue and black from your clothing.
  • Pre-select a zone of fire.
  • Choose only safe and ethical hunting partners.
  • Practice courtesy and self-control at all times.
  • Respect other hunters. 
 

Turning in Poachers Pays Off

Anyone who witnesses suspicious activity such as poaching or baiting may be eligible to receive a reward (up to $1,000) by reporting information that leads to a conviction to the Turn-In-Poachers program. 

 

Taking Toms with Decoys

Whether running and gunning or sitting and waiting, understanding when and how to use decoys can contribute to your success. Wildlife in North Carolina Associate Editor Mike Zlotnicki explores the use of decoys in the March/April 2022 edition.

 

Gobbling Chronology

From 2016 – 2019, agency staff used acoustic recorders each spring to capture gobbling activity on properties where turkeys were not hunted. Over 53,900 hours of audio files revealed 113,737 gobbles. The results indicated that 25%, 60% and 15% of turkey gobbling activity occurs before, during and after the spring harvest season respectively, which means the current spring turkey hunting season offers hunters the chance to pursue turkeys at a time when substantial gobbling occurs. Bring on the spring!

 

More Turkey Talk to Come!

The Wildlife Commission is working with NC State, the National Wild Turkey Federation and Louisiana State University on a three-year regional turkey ecology study to understand various turkey data, including hunter harvest pressure, nesting patterns and potential diseases. 

 
FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube

March 16, 2022 Special Trout Fishing Edition

2022 North Carolina Trout Fishing Guide

Visit and bookmark the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s trout webpage for all things trout, including stocking schedules, stream conditions and trout handling advice.

 

First Things First, Check Your License    

There’s nothing like enjoying your favorite waters. Make sure your license is valid before you hang up the Gone Fishin’ sign!

 

Hatchery Supported Trout Waters Open April 2

Approximately 1,000 miles of Hatchery Supported Trout Waters will open on April 2 at 7 a.m. and remain open through Feb. 28, 2023. Most trout are stocked April through June, with a few streams selectively stocked in July. Overall, staff will stock nearly 964,000 trout — 96 percent of which will average 10 inches in length, with the other 4 percent exceeding 14 inches in length.

 

Catch-and-Release Opportunities in Delayed Harvest Trout Waters

Delayed Harvest Trout Waters continue to be stocked throughout the spring as catch-and-release regulations apply until a half-hour after sunset on June 3. Anglers may begin to harvest trout on June 4, with youth opportunities (17 years old and younger) starting at 6 a.m. and all other anglers at noon.  

 

Where to Fish

Explore North Carolina’s Public Mountain Trout Waters with our interactive NC Fishing Areas & Trout Waters map. View all trout waters, search for specific waters or regulatory classifications, select counties of interest, find driving directions and much more. This 2 min. video will walk you through the process!

 

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There's Signs

Get to know these classification signs to know what waters you’re fishing and the associated rules and regulations, such as season dates, size and creel information. 

 

The Hook-Up

 

Custom Hatch Chart

Take advantage of our state’s numerous wild trout streams with this hatch chart, developed in partnership with the North Carolina Council of Trout Unlimited. It was created to help trout anglers match aquatic insect hatches in western North Carolina.

 

Aquatic Nuisance Species Are a Real Threat

Follow these four steps to help protect North Carolina’s waters from ecological harm & devastating economic impacts by preventing the spread of aquatic nuisance species (ANS).

  • CLEAN equipment of all aquatic plants, animals and mud.
  • DRAIN water from boats, live wells and all equipment.
  • DRY all equipment thoroughly.
  • NEVER MOVE fish, plants or other organisms from on body of water to another.
 

Conservation Efforts: Native Brook Trout

As North Carolina’s only native trout, the Brook Trout is the official freshwater fish of North Carolina. Learn more about Brook Trout by exploring:

  • Underwater footage (1 min.)
  • Efforts to restore Brook Trout populations (5 min. video and Wildlife in North Carolina article).
  • The Wildlife Commission’s many partnerships, such as the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, to help protect, restore and enhance Brook Trout habitat in our state and throughout its native range.
 

Support Brook Trout with a

Native Brook Trout License Plate!

 

 
FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube

March 11, 2022

Reduced Striped Bass Season on the Roanoke

The Striped Bass harvest season on the Roanoke River Management Area will be limited to four days in 2022:

  • April 23 - 24 (Saturday & Sunday)
  • April 28 - 29 (Thursday & Friday)

The creel limit is one fish per day. The decision was announced by proclamation in February and explained in a blog post by Inland Fisheries biologist Ben Ricks. The entire Roanoke River Management Area will be open for harvest, which includes tributaries from the Roanoke Rapids Lake Dam downstream to the Albemarle Sound, including the Cashie, Middle and Eastmost rivers.

 

CWD-Positive Deer Found in VA, Close to NC Border

CWD surveillance results from Virginia’s 2021-22 hunting season indicate one deer harvested in Floyd Co. and one deer harvested in Montgomery Co. tested positive for CWD. This is the first time a CWD-positive deer has been found in Floyd Co. It was harvested approximately 28.5 miles from the North Carolina border. The Wildlife Commission’s level of CWD surveillance was amplified in 2021 in response to Virginia’s positive case reported in Montgomery Co. earlier that year, just 33 miles from the North Carolina border. Special surveillance attention was given to the four North Carolina counties closest to that case: Alleghany, Rockingham, Stokes and Surry counties. At this time, CWD has not been detected in North Carolina’s deer herd.

 

Releasing Stripers Alive

Research shows that special hook regulations on the Roanoke River reduce injury and stress-induced mortality of released stripers. As a result, April 1-June 30, regulations require anglers to use a single, barbless hook upstream of the US 258 bridge. Replace treble hooks with only one single hook with the same total gap width. 

 

New Rules Passed for 2022-23

All 2022-23 proposed rules presented at the Feb. 24 commission meeting were passed unanimously by commissioners. Some rules were amended based on public comment, notably the rule about the import, transport, export, purchase, sale, transfer and release of Argentine Black and White Tegus. The commission also approved limited permit-only bear hunting in Panthertown-Bonas Retreat, Standing Indian and Pisgah Bear sanctuaries, which will now be named Designated Bear Management Areas for consistency with the N.C. Black Bear Management Plan. The full text of the adopted rules and exhibits are available in the meeting’s agenda package.

 

It's Time for Turkey Season!

Wild turkey season opens next month, and if it’s anything like the last two years, it will be active. Nearly 22,000 turkeys were harvested in 2021, just short of the all-time record set in 2020. Wildlife biologists say the state’s turkey population remains strong despite the increased hunting pressure and harvest, which is good news for youth and adult hunters as they go for their two-bird limit this season.

Season dates:  

  • April 2-8, Youth Season (Under 18)
  • April 9-May 7, Statewide (all ages)
 

75th Anniversary Spotlight: Native Game Species Success Stories

Not so long ago, white-tailed deer, wild turkey and black bear populations were severely low in North Carolina. Since the Wildlife Commission's inception in 1947, agency staff have worked tirelessly to recover these game species, and all three are conservation success stories. Wildlife Management Division Chief, Brad Howard, presents the history of each species and the continuing work to ensure they will thrive in our state for future generations to enjoy. (19 min.)

 

Be Bear Den Aware

This time of year, bears are very resourceful in finding shelter to raise their young. If you stumble upon a bear den occupied by a cub by its lonesome, the best action is to leave it alone. It’s likely waiting for its mother to return from foraging and exploring. However, sometimes cubs are orphaned, and our agency can help. If you suspect a bear cub has been abandoned, note the location, leave the cub and walk away. Once you are in a safe area, call the NC Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401, or contact your local district wildlife biologist for further guidance. If it’s determined a bear cub has been orphaned, we will safely transport it to a professional bear cub rehabilitator. Check out this video to learn more! (5 min.)

 

Shad Regulations Reminders

March means great Hickory Shad and American Shad fishing in North Carolina’s coastal rivers. However, harvest regulations vary depending on the river you’re fishing. The following regulations apply to inland and joint waters:

  • Tar-Pamlico River, Pungo River, Pee Dee River, and their tributaries: Daily creel limit is 10 shad in combination.
  • Cape Fear River and its tributaries: Daily creel limit is 10 shad in combination with no more than 5 American Shad. 
  • All other waters: Daily creel limit is 10 shad in combination with no more than 1 American Shad. 
 

Aquatic Nuisance Species are a Real Threat

Help protect North Carolina’s waters from ecological harm by preventing the spread of aquatic nuisance species (ANS). These four steps will go a long way to ensure our waters stay free of ANS:

  • CLEAN equipment of all aquatic plants, animals and mud.
  • DRAIN water from boats, live wells and all equipment.
  • DRY all equipment thoroughly.
  • NEVER MOVE fish, plants or other organisms from one body of water to another.  
 

Hatchery Supported Trout Waters Open April 2

Approximately 1,000 miles of Hatchery Supported Trout Waters will open on April 2 at 7 a.m. and remain open through Feb. 28, 2023. Most trout are stocked April through June, with a few streams selectively stocked in July. Overall, staff will stock nearly 964,000 trout — 96 percent of which will average 10 inches in length, with the other 4 percent exceeding 14 inches in length.

 

Honoring Conservationist Duane Raver

Duane Raver is the 2021 recipient of the Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award, which was awarded posthumously on Feb. 24. Duane was one of the first fisheries biologists hired at the newly formed Wildlife Commission in 1950, but it was his artistic talent that advanced his career. His illustrations and paintings had a profound influence on the conservation of wildlife, exposing many people to numerous species they would otherwise be unlikely to observe. Raver was nominated for the Quay Award in 2021 by former colleagues, but died just days before the presentation of the award resolution. He will be missed and always remembered. 

 

Bat-Friendly Tactics 

Bat pup rearing season begins May 1, so now is the time to responsibly relocate bats living in your home. Bat scat (guano) is an obvious indication that bats may be living in your gable vents, shutters or other nooks around your home. If they are getting inside, call a Wildlife Control Agent to safely evict them.