Wildlife Commission Email Updates

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  • 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

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.

 
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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.

 
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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. 

 
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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. 

 
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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!

 

 
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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.

 

Nominations Open!

Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee: The Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee (NWAC) is a board of North Carolina citizens that provides advice to the Wildlife Commission on nongame wildlife conservation issues across the state. Nominations are now being accepted for advisory member seats. To learn more, visit the NWAC webpage, or download the NWAC nomination form

Small Game Awards: Nominations are now being accepted for the Lawrence G. Diedrick Small Game Award. This prestigious honor recognizes individuals and organizations that have made meaningful contributions that benefit North Carolina’s small game populations and/or small game habitat. This includes efforts in habitat management, education, research and the Wildlife Commission’s Hunting Heritage Program, which promotes the recruitment and retention of hunters. More information and nomination requirements.



 

Cheering on the Next Generation

The Wildlife Commission’s Education Division works to cultivate and engage the next generation of outdoor recreational enthusiasts and conservationists. Here’s what’s happening with youth across our state.

Youth Hunter Education Skills Tournaments: This month, more than 3,500 students are competing in events throughout the state that will test their skills in shotgun, archery, rifle and a written hunting skills exam. Find the tournament location nearest you and plan to attend!

National Archery in the Schools Program State Tournament: Over 1,000 spectators and 800 students from 31 North Carolina elementary, middle and high schools gathered at the state tournament in Winston-Salem, Feb. 25 & 26. A full report of tournament results can be found here



 

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Weekend Announced

Register now to attend the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) Weekend, April 8 – 10 at the Eastern 4-H Center in Columbia (Tyrrell County). Women 18 and older will learn outdoor skills through hands-on experiences. Tracks include archery, fishing, kayaking, outdoor cooking, muzzleloading and more. More details are available online. Registration is $250. Scholarships are available. 

 

Wildlife in North Carolina Gone Fishin'

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. 

 

Reminders!

Boater and Hunter Education: Be prepared for boating and turkey season with free boating and hunter education courses. In-person and virtual options are available. Browse available Boating Education Courses and Hunter Education Courses.

Donate On Your Tax Return: Please consider donating any portion of your state refund to the N.C. Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund. You can contribute by entering the amount of your donation on line 30 on your tax form, clicking “yes” at the prompt when filing electronically, or notifying your tax preparer that you’d like to donate.

 

Bear e-Stamp Survey: Hunters, complete the annual Bear Stamp 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.

 

Upcoming Events, Classes, Workshops & Programs

Virtual and in-person opportunities available!

March 22, Green Growth Toolbox Webinar, Green Development Site Selection, Design & Review

Recorded Understanding our Wild Life webinar series, posted March 2, NC Bird Atlas: People Count Birds Count

 

Ongoing classes: 

John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, Fayetteville 

Western North Carolina Fishing & Aquatics Education Opportunities, Pisgah



 

Species Spotlight: Rough Green Snake

Consider the luck of the Irish on your side if you find a Rough Green Snake in the wild. This slender, graceful snake’s range spans the state, but it is difficult to find this reptile because it blends in well with its environment. Green snakes are active in the daytime, feeding on insects and spiders. They are good climbers and really like vine tangles at the base of trees. They breed in spring or fall, laying three to 12 eggs in the summer. Babies look like miniature adults, but are a less vivid green. They mature to 2.25 – 3.75 feet long. As summer approaches, keep an eye out for this beautiful snake as you explore the outdoors! 

 
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Feb. 11, 2022

Hatchery Supported Trout Waters Close March 1 

Hatchery Supported Trout Waters, marked by green-and-white signs, will be closed March 1 - April 2 for stocking. In 2022, 964,000 trout will be stocked at frequent intervals March through June — 96% of which will average 10 inches in length, with the other 4% exceeding 14 inches in length. Anglers can harvest a maximum of seven trout per day, with no minimum size limit, gear or bait restrictions. 

 

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.

 

Pictured from L to R: Tommy Fonville, Commissioner, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC); Lauren Price, President, MJ Price Construction; Joyce Buffaloe, Commissioner, Northampton County; Dr. Charles R. Tyner, Sr., Chairman, Northampton County; Bobby Drewett, Northampton County resident; Eddie Buffaloe, Secretary, Department of Public Safety; Representative Michael Wray, NC General Assembly; Erik Christofferson, Deputy Director of Operations, NCWRC; Gary Dail, Chinquapin Construction Crew Supervisor, NCWRC; Daniel Cabe, Design Engineer, NCWRC; Dick Collier, Director, Northampton County Tourism Development Authority; Gary Gardner, Chief of Engineering, NCWRC

Odom Boating Access Area Now Open 

The Odom Boating Access Area (BAA) in Jackson is now open. The new BAA is located on the Roanoke River and creates an excellent alternative access point between existing ramps in Weldon and Edwards Ferry. A special thank you to Representative Michael Wray and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety for their collaboration on the project. 

 

Annual e-Stamp Bear Survey

We are seeking important feedback from bear e-stamp holders, 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. 

 

Rabbit Hunters - Be Alert!

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease, known as RHDV2, is a fatal disease in rabbits and is classified as a foreign animal disease in the United States. As the open season concludes this month, we encourage rabbit hunters to follow these NEW rabbit hunting best management practices.

 

Students Back In-Person at State Archery Championship 

The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) state tournament is Feb. 25 -26 at the Winston-Salem Fair Grounds. Over 750 elementary, middle and high school students from 30 schools statewide will compete in team and individual events. The event is open to the public with a $5 admission. Good luck, NASP competitors!

 

Ensuring Home is Not Where the Wild Things Are

Winter is the ideal time to prepare for potential wildlife visitors to your property this spring. Foxes, skunks, squirrels, raccoons…they will all be searching for sheltered places to birth and raise their young. To avoid unwanted house guests, examine the outside of your home from top to bottom, looking for openings, loose siding, gaps and other inviting entrances.

Snakes don’t prefer to live inside occupied structures, but if hungry, they will follow chemical trails left by rodents. Check that air vents, pipes and wires are properly sealed and use screens designed to keep critters out. Your proactive planning will make for a more enjoyable spring. 

 

Quay Award Extension

Nominations for the 2022 Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award have been extended through Feb. 28. This award honors an individual who has made a significant, long-standing commitment to, and demonstrated leadership in promoting conservation of nongame species and their habitats in North Carolina.  

 

Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee Seeking Board Nominations

The Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee (NWAC) is seeking nominations for its board. Nominations will be accepted through April 30, and the new terms will begin in Jan. 2023. For more information, visit the NWAC page

 

Wildlife in North Carolina is for the Birds!

The N.C. Bird Atlas is easy, fun and the subject of the free article in the January/February issue of Wildlife in North Carolina magazine. Read all about the citizen science program that allows anyone interested in birding to contribute observations throughout the state. For even more great wildlife-related content, subscribe to Wildlife in North Carolina for just $12.

 

75th Anniversary Spotlight: Prescribed Burns  

February is Prescribed Fire Awareness Month in North Carolina. Prescribed fire is a necessary conservation method to improve ecosystem health and protect your community. Without fire, forests can develop dense undergrowth prone to uncontrolled wildfires and create an unsuitable habitat for some wildlife.

The scope of prescribed burns managed by the Wildlife Commission has significantly increased over recent years. In 1997, less than 10,000 acres were burned annually. Now, prescribed fire is conducted in 51 counties on over 35,000 acres of lands managed by the agency.  

Wildlife Commission staff, past and present, have played a huge role in this conservation effort, ensuring a healthy habitat for many species that thrive from this process. New vegetation in the forest means active wildlife for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. See how it’s done in the video below (3 min.) #75wildyears

 

Upcoming Events, Classes, Workshops & Programs

Virtual and in-person opportunities available!

Feb. 18-21, The Great Backyard Bird Count

Feb. 22, Green Growth Toolbox Webinar, Green Planning

Feb. 25-26, National Archery in the Schools Program State Championships, Winston-Salem

March 4 – 6, Wildlife Commission booth at the Dixie Deer Classic, Raleigh

March 8, Green Growth Toolbox Webinar, Greening Incentives and Ordinances

Recorded Understanding our Wild Life webinar series, posted Feb. 2: Trout Stocking and Changes in Angler Use

 

Ongoing classes: 

John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, Fayetteville 



 

What's in Season:

Check out our Regulations Digest online to see what you can hunt, fish and trap this time of year. Be sure to check dates carefully for your region.

In-Season:  

 

Species Spotlight: Mink

Love is in the air this month, especially if you are a mink. It’s prime mating season for the seldom-seen, primarily nocturnal mustelid, which is part of the weasel family. However, mating season is the only time males and females will associate with each other; otherwise, mink are solitary animals. Minks live in a diversity of wetlands throughout North Carolina and are excellent swimmers thanks to their slightly webbed hind feet. They aren’t picky when it comes to meat-based food; they dine on all kinds of small fish, crustaceans, reptiles, small mammals and insects as they forage along streams. A contented mink will sometimes purr and they are often mistaken for long-tailed weasels or river otters. Curious to learn more? Check out the species profile below. 

 

Tax Time Reminder!

Please consider donating any portion of your refund to the N.C. Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund when you file your North Carolina income taxes.

Contribute by:

  • Entering the amount of your donation on line 30 on your tax form.
  • Clicking “yes” at the prompt when filing electronically.
  • Notifying your tax preparer that you’d like to donate.

Your support is the most significant funding for Wildlife Diversity projects.

 
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Jan. 21, 2022

Celebrating 75 Years of Conservation 

This year the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will celebrate its 75th anniversary. Since 1947, this agency, and its employees, Commissioners, volunteers, partners and leaders, have made an incredible impact on wildlife conservation in North Carolina.

Accomplishments range from being the first state agency to establish a state-specific endangered species list, to bringing the wild turkey population back from the brink, to creating a wildlife endowment fund with lifetime licenses and offering greater accessibility to wildlife-associated recreationwe are proud of our impact and look forward to more success.

Throughout the year we will reflect on our 75 years of existence through stories told in this e-newsletter, on our social media platforms (#75wildyears) and in our redesigned magazine, Wildlife in North Carolina. Please follow along, and thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Cameron Ingram

Executive Director


 

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Hyde County

A Northern shoveler has tested positive for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in Hyde County. The wild duck was harvested by a hunter, and the sample was collected on Dec. 30, 2021. Officials at the Wildlife Commission have jumped into action in collaboration with the United States and North Carolina Departments of Agriculture, reminding hunters to follow best practices when handling waterfowl after harvest. 

 

A Must-Read Magazine for the Avid Outdoor Enthusiast 

Wildlife in North Carolina magazine began as an eight-page pamphlet published in 1937 entitled Wildlife Management in North Carolina. It has since evolved and is regularly found on coffee tables and in classrooms statewide. This month we launched a sleek new design, with more stunning photography and additional wildlife content. Make it your New Year’s resolution to:

  • Read the free articles
  • Watch the Wild & Tasty recipe video and give it a try!
  • Subscribe!
 

Public Comment Period Ends Jan. 31

The public comment period for the proposed changes to the 2022-2023 inland fishing, hunting, trapping, game land regulations and other regulated activities will close Jan. 31 at 11:59 p.m. Comments can be submitted online, by email and by mail. 

Details on the proposed regulations are available on our website. To view a pre-recorded overview of proposed changes, click the video link below (17 min.).

 

Youth and Veterans/Military Waterfowl Days

Feb. 5 and Feb. 12 are Youth and Veterans/Military Waterfowl Days. Both categories of hunters must follow the rules and regulations established for those days as outlined in the 2021-22 North Carolina Regulations Digest. Note: The same bag limits during the regular waterfowl season apply. Taking of Canada geese in the NE Hunt Zone is allowed with valid permit purchased prior to Jan. 31.

 

2021 Official Black Bear Harvest Summary 

Results from the 2021 annual bear harvest summary are now online and show that hunters statewide recorded the second highest harvest total on record at 3,659 bears — a 2% decrease from the previous season. The Coastal Bear Management Unit (BMU) harvest increased by 6% from 2020 with a record total of 2,371 bears. The Mountain BMU experienced a 14% decline, largely due an abundance of acorns compared to 2020. 

 

Give Local This Tax Season

As you file your North Carolina income taxes this year, please consider donating any portion of your refund to the N.C. Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund. Enter the amount of your contribution on line 30 on your tax form or click “yes” when prompted when filing electronically. Your participation is crucial in securing adequate funding for research, conservation and management of our most vulnerable species. 

 

2022 Wildlife Diversity Award Nominations Close Jan. 31

Nominations for the 2022 Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award will be accepted through Jan. 31. This award honors an individual who has made significant, long-standing commitment to, and demonstrated leadership in promoting conservation of nongame species and their habitats in North Carolina. 

 

New Access Area for Disabled Anglers & Boaters

A new wheelchair lift was recently installed at the Oak Island Boating Access Area in Southport. Expanded access to disabled sportsmen and women is a priority of the agency. To learn more about outdoor opportunities for the disabled community, visit:  

 

The parking lot at Lake Waccamaw BAA in Columbus County increased to 61 trailer spaces (3 ADA) and 15 single car spaces (1 ADA).

Expanded Parking at Boat Access Areas

In December, the Wildlife Commission’s Engineering Division completed parking expansion projects at two Boating Access Areas (BAA).

  • Lake Waccamaw BAA, Columbus County - The asphalt lot increased parking to 61 trailer spaces (3 ADA) and 15 single car spaces (1 ADA).
  • Straits Landing BAA, in partnership with Carteret County - Facility capacity is now 95 trailer spaces (4 ADA) and 32 single car spaces (2 ADA).
 

Conservation Area at King's Bridge

King’s Bridge Wildlife Conservation area is now open to the public for fishing, birding and other wildlife observation. Conserving Carolina transferred the 87 acres of land located off NC Highway 191 to the Wildlife Commission last summer. Nestled along the French Broad River, the plot will be conserved as a high-quality wildlife habitat that will benefit both terrestrial and aquatic species. 

 

Stop Feral Swine

January through March is the best time of year to trap feral swine, as scarce late-winter food makes baited traps much more appealing for this intelligent but destructive species. Find guidance on effective trapping methods, especially whole-group trapping, at www.ncferalswine.org. Landowners in Anson, Davie, Haywood, Montgomery and Randolph counties can apply now to borrow a corral trap.



 

Last Call for Photos!

Wildlife in North Carolina’s Photo Competition closes Jan. 31 at 5 p.m. Amateur and professional photographers who subscribe to the magazine may submit entries. The grand prize includes $200 and your photo featured on the July/August 2022 cover of Wildlife in North Carolina. Competition rules are available online.

 

Welcome the Class of 2022!

This month, 18 wildlife law enforcement recruits from across the country began Wildlife Basic Training. Our program has been regarded as one of the top training systems in the country since inception in 1950. Recruits engage in over 1,100 hours of instruction over 29 weeks, including North Carolina Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET), driving, boating, swimming, firearms, TASER, ASP, fish identification, waterfowl identification, constitutional law, and game and fish law.

Best wishes to the class of 2022!

 
 

What's in Season:

Check out our Regulations Digest online to see what you can hunt, fish and trap this time of year. Be sure to check dates carefully for your region.

In-Season:  

 

Species Spotlight: Groundhog

Feb. 2 is Groundhog Day - a day in which all eyes are on this cute critter as it awakes from hibernation and predicts an extended winter or early spring. As the largest member of the squirrel family, the groundhog is commonly seen standing upright, often standing guard at their burrow. However, groundhogs are adept climbers and may be observed on fence posts or in trees.

The groundhog, also known as the woodchuck, constructs its burrow in pastures, wooded areas, and along streams and roadway. Its range has expanded to nearly the entire state since 1985. Learn more at the species profile below. 

 
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2021 N.C. Wildlife Updates

Dec. 14, 2021

Your Participation Counts

The public comment period for the 2022-2023 proposed regulation changes related to wildlife management, inland fisheries, game lands and other regulated actives is now open through Jan. 31, 2022. Comments can be submitted online, by email, by mail and in-person at the 2022 public hearings.

Details on the proposed regulations, how to submit comments, and the public hearing schedule (in-person and virtual options) are available on our website. To learn more about the rule-making process and why it matters, check out the video presentation below (24 min.)

 

Front Row: Vernon (Ray) Clifton, Jr.,; Monty R. Crump, Chairman; Thomas L. Fonville, Vice-Chairman; Mark Craig; Kelly Davis, John M. Alexander, Jr.; Thomas A. Berry. Back Row: Cameron Ingram, NCWRC Executive Director; John T. Coley, IV ; Landon G. Zimmer; Brad Stanback; Wes Seegars; David Hoyle, Jr.,; Stephen L. Windham; J. Carlton (J.C). Cole; Thomas (Tom) M. Haislip, Jr.; John A. Stone; James (Jim) Ruffin. Not pictured: Michael (Mike) K. Alford and Hayden Rogers.

Four New Commissioners Take Oath

Four new commissioners were recognized at the agency’s Dec. 9 business meeting: John Alexander of Raleigh, Mike Alford of Jacksonville, J. Carlton “J.C.” Cole of Hertford and Tom Haislip of Sanford. In addition to the new commissioners, nine board members were re-affirmed at the October business meeting, making the 19-member board whole.

 

Hunting (or Fishing) for the Perfect Gift?

Consider gifting the wildlife enthusiast on your list a hunting or fishing license this holiday season. The Wildlife Commission offers a variety of options at different price points, including lifetime licenses.

 

CWD Sampling Update

Biologists collecting deer head samples to test for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) have reported excellent sample submission numbers from hunters, taxidermists and meat processors. Thank you! Although CWD has not been detected in North Carolina, it’s important we continue to monitor the health of our deer herd. Voluntary deer head submissions can be made at any testing drop-off station throughout the state. Learn more in the informational video below (2 min.)

 

Safe Deer Handling

Recent confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections in deer in Iowa and Ohio have hunters asking if they should be concerned about COVID-19 spreading from deer to humans. The best advice at this time is to continue basic safe handling precautions when handling any harvested wild animal.

 

Waterfowl Hunters Need HIP

If you hunt waterfowl, don’t forget to get your Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification. It’s required by law, and free to obtain online, at any Wildlife Service Agent location, or by phone at 888-248-6834, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Starting in 2022, HIP certifications will expire on June 30 after each hunting season. This change will improve federal annual estimates of waterfowl hunting activity in North Carolina, increase hunter compliance, and reduce confusion, as your certification will not potentially expire during the hunting season.  

 

White Catfish Restocked

Over 150,000 white catfish were successfully produced at the Watha Hatchery and stocked at Holly Shelter Creek, Rice’s Creek and South River this fall. White catfish have been absent from rivers in southeastern North Carolina for decades, but anglers will soon be able to catch and harvest the native sport fish. 

 

New OBX Boat Access Area

The Wildlife Commission and Dare County recently completed a new boating access area (BAA) in Rodanthe. The facility offers easy access to the Pamlico Sound and includes two concrete boat ramps, a floating dock, fixed platform dock and parking lot. 

 

Becoming BearWise

Local leaders and residents in four western North Carolina communities have initiated efforts to coexist with bears in a responsible manner. These BearWise® Recognized Communities, such as Highlands pictured here, are taking action that will benefit their communities for years to come. You can too!

 

Winter Bird Observations

Nearly 100 bird species migrate to North Carolina each winter. The NC Bird Atlas is asking birders, hunters and conservation enthusiasts to record their bird sightings now through Dec. 31 in the Ebird app as part of the Early Winter Bird Atlas. 

 

Seeking Nominations for the 2022 Wildlife Diversity Award 

Nominations for the 2022 Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award are now being accepted through Jan. 31, 2022. This award honors an individual who has made significant, long-standing commitment to, and demonstrated leadership in promoting conservation of nongame species and their habitats in North Carolina. 



 

NC Zoo Staff Member Joins NWAC

The Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee (NWAC) welcomed Dustin Smith to its board last month. Smith is the Curator of Reptiles, Amphibians and Invertebrates at the North Carolina Zoo. His expertise and knowledge are certain to be assets to the 15-member committee.  

 

Photos Wanted

Wildlife in North Carolina’s popular Photo Contest will remain open through Monday, Jan. 31, 2022 at 5 p.m. Amateur and professional photographers can enter in a range of categories. The grand prize includes $200 and your photo featured on the July/August 2022 issue of Wildlife in North Carolina. A magazine subscription is required to enter, unless you enter as a youth photographer (17 and younger). Contest rules and past winning photos are available online.

 

Recent Staff Publications

This report highlights the studies, surveys and research conducted on North Carolina’s game and furbearer species to ensure long-term viability and sustained harvest of these populations and the planning and coordination of management directives based on sound science.

An updated list of North Carolina’s Endangered and Threated Species listings. State-listed species are separated into three categories: Endangered, Threatened and Special Concern. 

This report demonstrates the breadth and depth of research efforts in five divisions across the Wildlife Commission. Results from these projects continue to be foundational in developing the sound, science-based wildlife, fisheries, and habitat management. 

An overview of annual and long-term data on the abundance of important natural foods (e.g., acorns, berries) for black bears and other wildlife. The availability of these foods influences bear movements, survivorship and reproduction. The data are also used to monitor oak regeneration and habitat management efforts on public lands. 

A review of projects that target nongame animals and their habitats, which also benefit game species such as deer, turkey, mountain trout and black bass.

 

Education Center Changes Course

At the October business meeting, Commissioners voted to not rebuild the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education building that was ravaged by floods in August. Instead, the agency will expand the Bobby N. Setzer State Fish Hatchery and increase trout production. A new educational model will be implemented to offer programs in local schools, partner facilities and on the water along streams and rivers in the region.

 

Classes, Workshops & Programs

 Ongoing classes:

John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, Fayetteville

 

What's in Season:

Check out our Regulations Digest online to see what you can hunt, fish and trap this time of year. Be sure to check dates carefully for your region.

In-Season:  

 
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Nov. 12, 2021 Holiday Gift Giving Guide

Happy holidays!

‘Tis the season for hunting, fishing and gifting! Our gifts are guaranteed to make any wildlife enthusiast smile. We make it easy to shop with online offerings shipped right to your doorstep (or inbox).

NOTE: With slower than normal shipping times, we strongly encourage you to place your orders by Nov. 22 for delivery by the holidays.

 

Lifetime Licenses: The Gift That Keeps Giving

Gifting a lifetime license gives your loved ones the opportunity to enjoy fishing and hunting year after year without worrying about renewing their license or increased fees. Proceeds from these special licenses support the North Carolina Wildlife Endowment Fund and programs and projects that benefit fish and wildlife. It’s the ultimate conservationist gift. 

NEW! Reduced Price Resident Lifetime Licenses for Older Adults

North Carolina residents ages 50 – 69 are now eligible for a Lifetime Sportsman or Lifetime Unified Sportsman license for half the regular adult price. This new price point is a result of recent legislation and is NOT a special sale or limited time offer. Read more or buy now!

 
 

Holiday Cheer 12 Months a Year

We’ve bundled our stunning 2022 Wildlife Calendar with a print subscription to our award-winning magazine, Wildlife in North Carolina. This $15 offer will make spirits bright each month with gorgeous artwork, wildlife-related dates and reminders, and in-depth articles about our state's wildlife conservation efforts. Offer ends Nov. 22 while supplies last. Includes new subscriptions and renewals. Gifting options are available.

 

BOW is Back!

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman® (BOW) is back on the schedule for 2022. Our BOW Weekend is for women ages 18 and older interested in learning outdoor skills through hands-on experiences. Next year’s retreat will take place April 8 – 10 at the Eastern 4-H Center in Columbia (Tyrrell County). A gift certificate to join in the adventure is sure to be a stocking stuffer she’ll never forget!

 

2022 Wildlife Calendar

Our beautiful 2022 Wildlife Calendar makes the perfect gift for staff, neighbors, teachers – everyone on your list! Individual and bulk pricing is available.

1 – 3, $9 each | 4 – 9, $8 each | 10 – 25, $7.50 each | 26 – 199, $7 each | 200+, $6 each

 

Wildlife in North Carolina Magazine

Wildlife in North Carolina is published six times a year and features informative stories and breathtaking photographs relating to North Carolina’s natural heritage and wildlife management practices. Print and digital subscriptions are available, as well as gifting options.

 

2021 Waterfowl Print & Stamp

The blue-winged teal is the featured duck on this year’s waterfowl stamp and print. Proceeds support waterfowl conservation in North Carolina, including acquiring and improving habitat. Artist: Scot Storm, Freeport, Minnesota.

 

Last Chance!

December 2021 will be your last chance to purchase the 2020 stamp and print of the tundra swan, while supplies last. Artist: Adam Grimm, Wallace, South Dakota.

 

There's nothing like opening day of your favorite season. Make sure you're prepared. Buy or renew a hunting and fishing license now!

 
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Nov. 3, 2021 Duck Hunting Guide - Special Edition

Duck Hunting in North Carolina

Your 2021-22 Duck Hunting Guide

Duck Hunting Season Dates

Inland Zone

Thu, Oct. 21 – Sat, Oct. 23

Sat, Nov. 6 – Sat, Nov. 27

Sat, Dec. 18 –Mon, Jan. 31


Coastal Zone

Fri, Oct. 29 – Sat, Oct. 30

Sat, Nov. 6 – Mon, Nov. 29

Sat, Dec. 18 –Mon, Jan. 31

 

Be Prepared!

To hunt waterfowl in North Carolina you must have the following:

  • Valid hunting license.
  • HIP (Harvest Information Program) certification.
  • State Migratory Waterfowl license (included with sportsman and comprehensive licenses).
  • Federal Duck Stamp.

All of the above are available online, at a local wildlife service agent or by calling 888-248-6834.

 

HIP Expiration Changes

The expiration of HIP certificates has changed. Instead of a 365-day issuance period, certification will now expire on June 30 after each hunting season. This change will improve federal annual estimates of waterfowl hunting activity in North Carolina, improve hunter compliance and reduce confusion, as your certification will not potentially expire during the course of the hunting season.  

 

Safety on the Water

When hunting from a vessel, basic safety precautions could save your life. Of the 24 people who died on the water in 2020, 19 were not wearing a life vest. The Wildlife Commission’s Home from the Hunt campaign recommends waterfowl hunters to:

  • Wear a personal floatation device at all times, even before you get in the boat.
  • Alert someone to your whereabouts and an approximate return time.
  • Understand that small, flat-bottom vessels are prone to capsizing and swamping.
  • Stay with the boat and use it as a floatation device if it capsizes or swamps.
  • Keep hunting dogs in the center of your boat.
  • Don't overload the boat, especially with passengers.
  • Store equipment properly and keep it evenly distributed.
  • Never move about the boat with a loaded shotgun.
  • Dress appropriately to avoid hypothermia if there is an incident. Wool or other synthetic materials are great choices.
 

There's nothing like opening day of your favorite season. Make sure you're prepared. Buy or renew a hunting and fishing license now!

 
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Oct. 15, 2021 Bear Hunting Guide - Special Edition