Wildlife Commission Email Updates

 

Get the latest from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission sent right to your inbox. Subscribe to one or both of two lists to choose from:

  • 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.  
  • NCWRC Rulemaking: Periodic emails advising the public on pending rulemaking by the agency.

 

Note: The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission values your privacy. The email you provide will never be shared or sold to a third party. 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, email unsubscribe@ncwildlife.org.

2022 N.C. Wildlife Updates

Nov. 5 Holiday Gift Giving Guide

Happy holidays!

‘Tis the season for hunting, fishing and gifting! We make it easy to shop for the wildlife enthusiast on your list with online offerings shipped right to your doorstep (or inbox).

NOTE: To ensure delivery by Christmas, we strongly encourage you to place your order no later than Nov. 21. Orders placed after that date may not arrive before Dec. 25. 

 

Lifetime Licenses: The Ultimate Conservationist Gift

 

Gifting a lifetime license provides your loved ones with the opportunity to enjoy fishing and hunting year after year without worrying about renewing the license or increased fees. By purchasing a lifetime license, you are investing in the North Carolina Wildlife Endowment Fund. Income from this fund is used to support conservation programs and projects throughout North Carolina. This is a gift that keeps on giving. 

 

Great Priced 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. Read more or buy now!

 

Bundle Up this Holiday Season

Our stunning 2023 Wildlife Calendar with a print subscription to our award-winning magazine, Wildlife in North Carolina, is back by popular demandThis $15 gift bundle includes our calendar with gorgeous artwork, plus our bi-monthly magazine chocked full of inspiring articles about hunting, fishing, boating, wildlife watching, recipes, and so much more.  

To receive the magazine and calendar combination offer, select your subscriber status and hit continue. For current customers, please sign in. For new customers, please create an account. Current subscriptions can be renewed but not upgraded through the combination offer. Offer ends Nov. 27 or while supplies last. Available with new subscriptions and renewals. Gifting options are available. 

 

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Weekend Excursion

The 2023 Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) Weekend is scheduled for April 14 – 16 at the YMCA Camp Harrison at Herring Ridge in Boomer (Wilkes County). Women ages 18 and older who are interested in learning outdoor skills through hands-on experiences should attend. Gift certificates are available via our Wild Store. Her next adventure awaits! 

 

2023 Wildlife Calendar

Our beautiful 2023 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

 

FINAL EDITION 2022 Waterfowl Stamp and Print

The pair of wood ducks featured on this year’s waterfowl stamp and print will be the last stamp and print image produced for the Wildlife Commission. Proceeds support waterfowl conservation in North Carolina, including acquiring and improving habitat. Award-winning artist: Ron Louque.

 

Last Chance!

December 2022 will be your last chance to purchase the 2021 stamp and print of the blue-winged teal, while supplies last. Artist: Scot Storm, Freeport, Minnesota.

 

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

 
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Oct. 21, 2022

Your Next Adventure Awaits!

Fall is officially here! View the North Carolina Regulations Digest online to see what you can hunt, fish and trap this time of year. Check dates carefully for your region.

In-season this month:  

 

Reduced Price Resident Lifetime Licenses for Older Adults

 

With hunting and fishing in full swing, now is a great time to consider investing in a Lifetime License. If you’re a North Carolina resident, 50 – 69 years old, your investment is now half the price for a regular adult Lifetime Sportsman or Lifetime Unified Sportsman license ($265 and $358 respectively.) Why wait? 

 

Firearm Safety Tips

Safety should be a top priority for anyone hunting, especially as more firearm seasons open. If you use a firearm, you are responsible for where the bullet lands. Always follow these important rules:

  • Always point a firearm in a safe direction. 
  • Treat every firearm as if it were loaded. Never assume a firearm is unloaded.
  • Keep your finger out of the trigger guard and off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  • Be sure of your target­, as well as what’s in front of and behind it.
  • Use binoculars, rather than a rifle scope, to identify the target.
 

Be Safe. Be Seen.

Blaze orange is required when hunting certain game with firearms and mandatory for deer hunters during firearm season regardless of hunting implement. (Some exceptions apply.) Non-hunters using game lands are encouraged to wear blaze orange so they can also be easily seen.  

 

Mapping Your Hunt

Game land property boundaries are designated by orange paint bands and signage, although some property lines can be hard to define when you’re out in the field. Game plan before your hunt so you know where game lands end and private lands start. Our interactive and printable maps are the most up-to-date and accurate resources available.   

 

CWD Mandatory Sampling in Surveillance Areas

If you harvest a deer in the CWD Primary or Secondary Surveillance Areas during the following dates, you must submit a sample for CWD testing:

  • Primary: Nov. 5 – Jan. 2, 2023.
  • Secondary: Nov. 5 – Nov. 27.

Voluntary testing across the state is encouraged throughout the season. There are three ways to get your deer tested:

  • Testing Drop-off Stations (freezers) 
  • Wildlife Commission Staffed Check Stations 
  • Cervid Health Cooperators (processors & taxidermists)
 

Your Cooperation is Helping!

A third deer has tested positive for CWD in North Carolina. The deer was hunter harvested during archery season in Surry County, 10 miles from the two previous infected deer. Thanks to the voluntary sample submitted, we now know more about prevalence of CWD in our state. We appreciate the cooperation of hunters, taxidermists and meat processors, and remind everyone to continue to be vigilant and mindful of carcass disposal. We don’t want to accidentally give CWD a ride to new areas of the state. 

If You Harvest a Deer, We Need Your Feedback! 

Congrats, you’ve harvested a deer! Complete our short, online survey for a chance to win an Outdoor Edge Knife with replaceable blades.

 

Feral Swine Trap Program Now Available

A new pilot program to trap and remove invasive feral swine is now available in five North Carolina counties. If you live in Anson, Davie, Haywood, Montgomery or Randolph counties, you are eligible to participate. More information on this collaborative program between the Wildlife Commission and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is available online

 

75th Anniversary Spotlight: A Rich History of Research-Based Fish and Wildlife Management

Research is a key to making science-based management decisions to protect North Carolina’s wildlife resources and provide opportunities for people to enjoy and benefit from these resources. Most of the research completed in the Wildlife Commission’s formative years was focused on game species, but over its 75-year span, the agency has expanded research efforts to include many game and nongame species and their habitats.

Research continues to be a vital part of our agency. Staff endeavors span multiple agency divisions and involve many partners across the state and country. These efforts are documented annually in a research report that provides an overview of projects agency staff have been engaged in over the past year. The most recent report is now available. 

 

Bear Tooth Submission Now Mandatory

If you harvest a bear, you are now required to submit at least one premolar tooth to the Wildlife Commission no later than Jan. 31, 2023. Once it’s received, you’ll get an email confirmation, and a Black Bear Cooperator ball cap and age report will be mailed to you in September 2023. If you are a bear e-stamp holder, keep an eye out for your bear tooth envelope in the mail.

 

Tracking a Fatal Rabbit Disease

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV-2) is a serious disease spreading across the U.S. It was recently found in a group of feral domestic rabbits in Greenville County, South Carolina. To track the potential spread of the disease, wildlife biologists request:

  • If you harvest a rabbit in Henderson or Transylvania counties, or a surrounding county, please consider removing and immediately freezing its liver in a bag labeled with your name, contact information, date and harvest location using GPS coordinates. To report your collection for pickup, call the NC Wildlife Helpline, 866-318-2401, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; or email after hours and weekends.
  • If you find one or more dead rabbits where cause of death is not readily apparent, contact the Helpline and our trained staff will explain how to store the animal for biologist retrieval. 
 

Attention Grouse and Quail Hunters

The Wildlife Commission is seeking feedback from grouse and quail hunters through its Avid Grouse and Avid Quail Hunter Surveys. The surveys assist biologists in the long-term monitoring and management of grouse and quail in our state. See results from previous grouse surveys and quail surveys.

 

Avian Influenza Precautions for Waterfowl Hunters 

No new highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) infections have been documented in wild birds in North Carolina since March. However, those birds that migrated to other states and Canada during the spring and summer, where HPAI was present, are returning to North Carolina for the winter. Waterfowl hunters are urge to take health precautions as they directly interact with wild birds. 

 

Field Observations from Deer Hunters Requested

If you still hunt deer or hunt from a stand, we’d like to know about your wildlife observations. Log observations online or email us for a paper survey. Thank you in advance for providing valuable data for state wildlife management survey projects.

 

Sea Turtle Nesting Success Stories

The second largest number of sea turtle nests laid (1,957) was documented during the 2022 nesting season, thanks to the help of a network of trained cooperators and volunteers who monitor coastal nesting beaches. Wildlife Commission biologists coordinate this valuable group of people to protect incubating eggs and evaluate success. Over 140,000 turtle hatchlings have been produced on North Carolina beaches this year. Cheers to our volunteers! 

 

Wildlife in North Carolina Magazine Photo Competition Now Open

Entries for the 2022-23 Wildlife in North Carolina Photo Competition are now being accepted through Jan. 31, 2023 at 5 p.m. Professional and amateur photographers can participate. Entry information, photo categories, rules and past winning submissions can be found on our website. Adult competitors must be current magazine subscribers; youth (17 years old & under) may enter without a subscription. 

 

The Foreign Language of Nymphing

Nymphing is the ‘can’t go wrong’ choice when it comes to any style of fly-fishing, yet there are so many ways to approach this style that many anglers need help deciphering the “language”. The Fishing and Aquatic Education Team at the John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center has developed a program to help YOU become a confident nymph-slinging angler. The free class will be held on Friday, Oct. 28, 6:30-8:30 p.m. You’ll learn: 

  • How to “Match the Hatch” for nymphing. 
  • Styles and techniques of nymphing from around the world. 
  • Gear and rigging for nymphing. 
  • How to make your own nymphing rig.  
 

Wake County Shooting Range Re-opens

Facility improvements were recently completed at the Wake County Firearms Education and Training Center in Apex, and reservations are now being accepted. Book your spot by the hour up to five days in advance. 

 

This weekend is your last chance to visit the Wildlife Commission's State Fair Exhibit in Raleigh. Shoot a pellet gun. Meet a Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer. And pick up this year's commemorative 75th Anniversary Wildlife in North Carolina State Fair Button.

Classes, Workshops & Events

Oct. 13 -23, N.C. State Fair, Wildlife Commission exhibit and pellet range, Raleigh

Nov. 1, Landowner Resource Workshop, Elizabethtown, 6 – 8 p.m. Registration required by Oct. 26. Email or call Benjy Strope, 910-874-5562.

Nov. 19 – 20, GSFF Glock Challenge, Foothills Public Shooting Complex, Cherryville, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Ongoing classes and podcasts: 

Free Public Fishing Classes for All Ages and Abilities, statewide

Better Fishing with 2 Bald Biologists, new episodes drop bi-monthly. Listen & subscribe on your favorite podcast service. 



 

Species Spotlight: Brook Trout Spawning

Fall in the mountains most likely generates an image of glowing landscapes painted by autumn leaf colors. However, there is also an unbelievable display taking place within many of our mountain streams, where brook trout are starting to spawn. Now equipped with vibrant colors that rival the leaves above (especially, bold oranges), brook trout begin to navigate the clear, cold and oxygen-rich waters of high-altitude streams to find a mate and continue the lineage of our state’s only native trout. Brook trout prefer streams with stable water flows, silt-free gravel for spawning, and an abundance of pools and riffles with sufficient in-stream cover, such as logs and boulders. Decreasing daylight and temperature associated with autumn signify the onset of spawning, which typically occurs between September and November.

Once a suitable site is found, the female will construct a nest called a “redd” in the gravel substrate, while the male courts the female and chases away intruding males. Both fish then settle into the redd and simultaneously release eggs (the number depends on the size of the female) and sperm (milt). Fertilized eggs are covered with gravel by the female and remain in the redd until they hatch over a period of weeks based on water temperature.

Ultimately, survival of eggs at this delicate life stage is dependent upon the health of the stream. Eggs within the redd require ample amounts of oxygen, so excessive amounts of silt and sediment can interrupt water circulation and smother developing trout. In addition, abnormally high flow events can wash away the redds, eggs and even young trout after they have emerged from the redd. This fragility stresses the critical role that stream and watershed health plays in ensuring brook trout have ample habitat to spawn, grow and become the fish that generations of North Carolinians have enjoyed.

 
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Oct. 10, 2022 Special Duck Hunting Edition

Duck Hunting in North Carolina

Your 2022-23 duck hunting guide

 

Duck Hunting Season Dates

Inland Zone

Fri., Oct. 21–Sat., Oct. 22

Sat., Nov. 5–Sat., Nov. 26

Sat., Dec. 17–Tue., Jan. 31

 

Coastal Zone

Fri., Oct. 28–Sat., Oct. 29

Sat., Nov. 5–Sat., Nov. 26

Sat., Dec. 17–Tue., Jan. 31

 

Be Prepared!

To hunt waterfowl in North Carolina, those 16 years of age or older 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, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

 

HIP Expiration Changes

The expiration of the HIP certification 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 hunting season. All licensed migratory game bird hunters, including lifetime license holders, are required to have HIP certification.

 

Safety on the Water

Basic safety precautions could save your life when hunting from a vessel. Of the 23 people who died on the water in 2021, 16 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 choicesety
 

2022-23 Regulations Digest

Rules and regulations related to hunting, fishing, trapping and nongame species are available in 2022-23 Regulations Digest. View it online, download the guide as a PDF, or pick up a copy at your local Wildlife Service Agent’s office. 

 

Pro Tip: Know Your Waterfowl

A comprehensive waterfowl identification guide is available as a .PDF through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, authored by Bob Hines.

 

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. 

 

 
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Sept. 28, 2022 Special Bear Hunting Edition

The 2022-23 Guide to Bear Hunting in North Carolina

 

Make Preparation a Priority

Before you head out to the hunt:

  • All non-license exempt bear hunters are required to carry a valid hunting license with big game hunting privileges and a Big Game Harvest Report Card with the Bear Management E-Stamp when hunting bear. Nonresident bear hunters will also need to obtain the Bear Hunting Privilege License in addition to the above.
  • License exempt bear hunters are required to carry a valid Big Game Harvest Report Card with the Bear Management E-Stamp when hunting bear.
  • Buy or renew a license online, at a Wildlife Service Agent office or call 888-248-6834, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. 
  • View bear season dates, bag limits, and other rules via the North Carolina Regulations Digest online, download the digest as a PDF, or request a printed copy.
 

Congrats, You Got One! Now What?

After harvesting a bear, follow these steps:

  • Validate your bear e-stamp on the Big Game Harvest Report Card immediately by cutting or punching out the corresponding day and month of your harvest. This is required BEFORE:

o  The animal is skinned or dismembered.

o  The animal is left unattended by the successful hunter.

o  The animal is placed in possession of another person.

o  12 p.m. (noon) the day following day the harvest. 

  • Report your harvest online via the large orange Report button on our homepage or by calling 1-800-I-GOT-ONE.
  • Record & keep the authorization number given to you after reporting your harvest.
  • Extract at least one premolar tooth and submit it by Jan. 31, 2023.
 

Mandatory Bear Tooth Submission

Bear tooth submission became mandatory during the 2021-22 bear hunting season for all hunter-harvested bears. If you harvest a bear this season, you must submit at least one premolar tooth to the Wildlife Commission no later than Jan. 31, 2023. You will receive e-mail confirmation once it’s received. As a thank you, you'll receive a North Carolina Black Bear Cooperator ball cap and an age report for your bear in September 2023. Visit the bear cooperator webpage for more information.

Stay alert!

All bear e-stamp holders should receive a bear tooth envelope in the mail!

Check the Status of Your Submitted Tooth

Check the status of your submitted bear tooth, including receipt confirmation, by logging into the Big Game Harvest online portal. (Your last name and WRC customer number are required.) Status updates are posted approximately 10 days after your bear tooth is received. You can also view your previous big game harvests with bear age results and print a personalized harvest certificate for display. 

 

Real Time Bear Harvest Reports

Monitor harvest results in real time on our website by county, regional or statewide harvest totals and multi-years trends for bear, deer and wild turkey. 

 

Home from the HuntTM Reminders

Archery

  • Always point the bow or crossbow in a safe direction.
  • Only nock or load an arrow when it’s safe to shoot.
  • Keep your finger off the bow trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  • Be sure of your target and what is in front of it, immediately behind it, and beyond it.
  • Avoid dry-firing a bow or crossbow (releasing the string without a loaded arrow). It may cause serious damage to the bow or crossbow and can injure the shooter. 
 

Firearm

  • Always point the muzzle of your firearm in a safe direction.
  • Adhere to established safe zones of fire.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, especially when preparing to shoot. Ensure that there aren’t any houses, vehicles or people in front of or behind your target.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
 

Treestand

Preparing to use your tree stand:

  • Remove all your equipment and inspect it for damage before using it. This includes belts, chains, bolts, ratchet straps and attachment cords. Replace them if necessary.
  • Wear a full-body safety harness as part of a fall-arrest system.
  • Ensure you do not exceed the stand manufacturer’s maximum height or weight limits.
  • Pack an emergency signal device, such as a cell phone, two-way radio or a whistle.

Setting up your tree stand:

  • Share your stand location with someone before each hunt.
  • Select a healthy, straight tree for your tree stand.
  • Ask someone to assist you with setting up the stand.

Using your tree stand:

  • Buckle your harness securely and connect to the tree tether before your feet leave the ground.
  • Maintain three points of contact when climbing the ladder; two hands and a foot or two feet and a hand. Most falls occur when climbing up or down.
  • Use a lineman’s belt and/or lifeline when climbing or descending.
  • Raise and lower equipment using a haul line – never carry anything as you climb.
 

Black Bear Management

Want to see how your harvest is helping shape black bear conservation in North Carolina? Read our annual report.

 

Bear Management Unit Harvest Reports

Check out our bear harvest reports by bear management unit, method of take, location and more. 

 
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Sept. 16, 2022

75th Anniversary Spotlight: Wildlife Commission Shooting Ranges

Fall is a great time to hone your shooting skills before you head out for the first hunt of the season. In less than 10 years, the Wildlife Commission has acquired, renovated or built 13 shooting ranges in North Carolina, creating safe access to target shooting and limitless educational opportunities. Prior to these secure areas to shoot, target shooting was typically done on game lands, resulting in safety concerns and damage to natural resources.  

Annual visitation to the Wildlife Commission ranges hovers around 58,000, and fees to users are free to minimal. The agency’s goal is to provide a safe shooting opportunity within a 50-mile radius of every North Carolinian. Careful evaluation goes into each selecting site, including a landscape review, sound study, environmental assessment and public information meeting. 

Over the years, the design of the facilities has evolved. Sites now feature baffles, controlled access points, acoustical panels for noise reduction, shoot tubes and adjustable seats. Lead reclamation is also a priority. About 91,000 pounds of lead have been removed from our ranges —that’s an estimated 5.5 million rounds! Watch this 17-minute presentation to learn more. 

 

Regulation Updates as of Sept. 1

New Size, Creel and Season Limits Adopted for Inland Fishing Waters:

New rules provide conservation and protection for 15 fish species when found in inland fishing waters and prohibit the sale of most of the species listed if harvested from inland fishing waters. The new limits are consistent with North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission regulations in coastal fishing waters. Read more.

Restriction of Use of Attractants for Deer Hunting in Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance Areas:

An emergency amendment, applicable only to the CWD Surveillance Areas, prohibits possession and use of any excretion collected by a hunter from a harvested deer. This is in addition to CWD special regulations already established, restricting the transport of deer carcasses and carcass parts from the CWD Surveillance Areas. More information.

 

 

Deer Hunting Resources

Archery hunting for deer opened statewide on Sept. 10. Youth Deer Hunting Day is Saturday, Sept. 24. Be prepared for the hunt with these resources:

 

Take Tree Stand Safety Seriously

Hunting from an elevated stand is a popular tactic used by deer hunters, however tree stand incidents accounted for 20% of reported hunting-related incidents in 2021. Wildlife hunting education staff recommend to always use a fall-arrest system and follow the manufacturer’s recommended safety procedures.

 

Wild & Tasty Recipe: Venison Jerky

With the opening of deer season upon us, now is the time to begin brainstorming venison recipes. An easy and always-pleasing option is venison jerky. This easy-to-follow recipe is featured in the July/August edition of Wildlife in North Carolina. Subscribe for as little as $10.  

 

National Hunting and Fishing Day is Sept. 24

Two free, family-friendly National Hunting and Fishing Day celebrations are set for Saturday, Sept. 24. Join us for a day of fun with the family at the John Lentz Hunter Education Complex or John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center

 

Delayed Harvest Trout Waters Open Oct. 1

Fall trout fishing will escalate on Oct. 1 when Delayed Harvest Trout Waters regulations are implemented on 36 trout waters marked with diamond-shaped black and white signs. At that time, no trout can be harvested or possessed from these waters between Oct. 1 and one half-hour after sunset on June 2, 2023. However, catch and release is encouraged, as high numbers of trout were stocked from fall to spring to increase the chances of catching a fish. Anglers can fish with artificial lures with one single hook — no natural bait may be possessed. 

 

Restoring Bog Turtle Populations

The Wildlife Commission and several partners have added a new tool to the bog turtle conservation toolbox. It’s called head-starting, which involves raising turtles in captivity their first year to increase their size relative to wild hatchlings, thereby increasing their chances of survival in the wild upon release. In 2021, over 50 turtle eggs were transported to Zoo Knoxville to begin the head-starting process. Zookeepers incubated the eggs until the hatchlings emerged, then reared the baby turtles for 10 months. This summer, wildlife biologists returned the turtles to their native habitats and collected 70 more eggs to continue the head-starting process. A huge effort for a very tiny turtle.

 

Keep an Eye Out!

Chipmunk Sightings East of I-95

 

Fall is an active time for chipmunks that are gathering food to store for the winter. If you live in a county east of I-95 and observe a chipmunk or its habitat, please take a picture, note the location (GPS coordinates preferred) and contact the NC Wildlife Helpline, 866-318-2401. 

Field Observations from Deer Hunters Requested

If you still hunt deer, or hunt from a stand, we’d like to know about your wildlife observations. Log observations online or email us for a paper survey. Thank you in advance for providing valuable data for state wildlife management survey projects.

 

  Thank you for providing valuable data for wildlife management purposes!

 

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. was recognized with offical signage as the first BearWise business in North Carolina and the first BearWise brewery in the country.

Business and Recreational Areas Now Bearwise®

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Mills River is the state’s first BearWise business and the country’s first BearWise brewery, committing to secure trash and compost, limit potential attractants and serve as ambassadors to the surrounding community. Camp Merrie-Woode, a youth summer camp in Cashiers, is the state’s first recreational area to go BearWise. The camp installed bear-resistant trash enclosures around the camp, rearranged camp sites for better food storage and trained counselors and staff on bear safety. 

 

Preserve Your Legacy Through a New Land Trust Initiative

The Wildlife Commission, in partnership with its 501c3 subsidiary, the Wildlife & Outdoor Recreation Foundation (WORF), is introducing a bold, new land trust initiative. This estate planning program directly supports the conservation of North Carolina’s wild places and the development of outdoor recreational opportunities for all North Carolinians. Preserve your family’s legacy for future generations! Contact WORF for details, 919-614-5126. 

Options are available for you to inform the usage and management of the land gifted, including naming rights and recognition.

 

Pictured (L to R): Josh Jernigan (Shooting Range Manager), Gary Gardner (Chief, Engineering Division), Jamie Hall (Digital Marketing Manager), Bill Bennet (Senior Marketing Manager, Davidson's), Travis Casper (Chief, Education Division) and Steven Bailey (Facilities Construction Engineer).

Partnership with a Purpose

“Safety in shooting sports has always been at the core of Davidson’s values,” stated Bill Bennet, senior marketing director for the shooting sports wholesaler. Last month, Bennet presented the Wildlife Commission with a $10,000 gift to install a new safety lighting system at the R. Wayne Bailey – Caswell Shooting Range in Yanceyville. This gift, matched with an estimated $40,830 in grant funding, will modernize the range’s safety communication system. Davidson’s generosity is a great example of purposeful partnerships yielding positive results.

 

What's in Season

Download or bookmark the 2022-23 Inland Fishing, Hunting & Trapping Regulations Digest for quick reference.

Inland Fishing

No closed seasons on inland game fishes, with exceptions

No closed seasons for nongame fishes taken from inland waters, with exceptions

Big Game

White-tailed deer (archery only)

Migratory Game Birds

Canada Goose (September season)

Doves, King & Clapper Rails, Sora & Virginia Rails, Gallinule & Moorhens

September Teal

Buy or renew a license online, at a Wildlife Service Agent office

or call 888-248-6834, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

 

2023 Wildlife Calendar Now Available

Our stunning 2023 Wildlife Calendar makes the perfect gift for staff, neighbors, teachers — everyone on your list. Order early so you don’t miss out! 

1 – 3, $9 each

4 – 9, $8 each

10 – 25, $7.50 each

26 – 199, $7 each

200+, $6 each

 

Hemorrhagic Disease Reported in Numerous North Carolina Counties

Scattered observations of sick and dead deer have been reported across the state late this summer and are linked to a sporadic outbreak of hemorrhagic disease. While the population effects of a hemorrhagic disease outbreak are much more temporary than the long-term declines that result from CWD, hunters may find dead deer near water early this season and may notice rings in the hooves of some deer that have recovered from hemorrhagic disease. 

 

KNOW CWD Public Forums

Three public forums about CWD and new rules in the Surveillance Areas have been announced. Wildlife staff will present updates and answer questions. Each event will run from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the following locations and will stream on Facebook Live: 

Sept. 22: Forsyth County Cooperative Extension Center, 1450 Fairchild Rd, Winston Salem

Sept. 29: Wilkes County Cooperative Extension Center, 416 Executive Dr, Wilkesboro

Oct. 4: Yadkin County Cooperative Extension Center, 2051 Agricultural Way, Yadkinville

 

Classes, Workshops & Events

Sept. 9 – 18, The NC Mountain State Fair, Wildlife Commission exhibit, Fletcher

Sept. 24, National Hunting & Fishing Day, John Lentz Hunter Education Complex, Ellerbe, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Sept. 24, Wildlife Expo, John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, Fayetteville, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Oct. 13 -23, The N.C. State Fair, Wildlife Commission exhibit and pellet range, Raleigh

Nov. 19 – 20, GSFF Glock Challenge, Foothills Public Shooting Complex, Cherryville, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Recorded Understanding our Wildlife webinar series, Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on 2020 Spring Turkey Hunting Across the United States, posted Aug. 22

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 



 

Species Spotlight: Catfish

Catfish in North Carolina are growing in popularity among anglers. In recent years, North Carolina has seen new state records for flathead, blue and channel catfish. Catfish populations are growing, and it’s quite common to find fish over 40 pounds throughout the state. This may sound like all good news and it’s undeniable flathead, blue and channel catfish offer excellent angling opportunities. However, there is another side to this story. All these species are non-native, and flathead and blue catfish pose conservation concerns. Native fish species suffer due to competition and direct predation from these non-native catfish. Balancing catfish angling opportunity and conservation concerns is a unique challenge in North Carolina. Learn more by tuning into the next Better Fishing with 2 Bald Biologists podcast.

 
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Sept. 14, 2022 Special Hunting in NC's CWD Surveillance Areas Edition

Hunting in North Carolina's CWD Surveillance Areas

The first two positive cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in North Carolina were detected this year in Yadkin County. As a result, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has established Primary and Secondary CWD Surveillance Areas and special regulations in the northwest corner of the state. Alleghany, Davie, Forsyth, Iredell, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes and Yadkin counties fall entirely or partially within the Surveillance Areas.

If you hunt in the Surveillance Areas, it’s crucial that you follow the special regulations designated for those areas.

 

Don’t Give it a Ride

Preventing accidental spread of CWD is a crucial management goal. If you harvest a deer in the Primary or Secondary Surveillance Areas, you must follow the carcass transportation regulations that prohibit the transport of deer carcasses and carcass parts out of the Surveillance Areas.

 

Since deer in the early stages of CWD appear healthy, it is imperative to take precautions when disposing of all deer carcasses. Responsible disposal methods include:

  • Bury the deer remains where you harvest the animal when possible.
  • Double bag deer remains for disposal at the closest landfill.
  • Leave the deer remains on the ground where the animal was harvested.
 

Get Your Deer Tested

CWD testing is available to all hunters throughout deer season. While mandatory testing is in effect in Surveillance Areas during blackpowder season and parts of gun season, voluntary testing of deer during other days of season is encouraged. Visit the agency’s CWD testing webpage to find a drop-off station or check station location near you.

 

Join us for in-person KNOW CWD Forums

6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 22: Forsyth County Cooperative Extension Center, 1450 Fairchild Rd, Winston Salem, NC 27105

Thursday, Sept. 29: Wilkes County Cooperative Extension Center, 416 Executive Dr, Wilkesboro, NC 28697

Tuesday, Oct. 4: Yadkin County Cooperative Extension Center, 2051 Agricultural Way, Yadkinville, NC 27055

Submit your questions for consideration. (Portal closes Sept. 20 at 5 p.m.) Questions will also be accepted at the forums. 

Forums will stream via Facebook Live and be recorded and posted to the CWD webpage if you are unable to attend.

 
 
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Aug. 30, 2022 Special Deer Hunting Edition

Deer Season Opens Next Month

Your 2022-23 guide to white-tailed deer hunting in North Carolina

 

There’s nothing like opening day of deer season. Make sure you’re prepared.

  • Buy or renew a license online, at a Wildlife Service Agent office or call 888-248-6834, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Request a Big Game Harvest Report Card with your license, which is required when hunting big game.
  • Pick up a printed copy of the 2022-23 North Carolina Regulations Digest from your local Wildlife Service Agent, or view it online or download a copy as a PDF. The guide provides important information on season dates, bag limits, hunting licenses, game lands, regulations, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and more. 
 

Deer Hunting Seasons

Northeastern and Southeastern Seasons

Archery:  Sept. 10 – Sept. 30

Blackpowder:  Oct. 1 – Oct. 14

Gun: Oct. 15 – Jan. 2

Central Season

Archery:  Sept. 10 – Oct. 28

Blackpowder:  Oct. 29 – Nov. 11

Gun:  Nov. 12 – Jan. 2

Northwestern Season

Archery:  Sept. 10 – Nov. 4

Blackpowder:  Nov. 5 – Nov. 18

Gun:  Nov. 19 – Jan. 2

Western Season

Archery:  Sept. 10 – Oct. 2, Oct. 16 – Nov. 20, Dec. 11 – Jan. 2 (antlered only)

Blackpowder: Oct. 3 – Oct. 15

Gun:  Nov. 21 – Dec. 10

Youth Day Sept. 24 (National Hunting and Fishing Day!)

Youth under the age of 18 may use any legal weapon to hunt deer of either sex.

Urban Archery Jan. 14 – Feb. 19, 2023

Open in participating municipalities only.

 

Deer Hunting Regulations Reminders

  • Season and possession bag limit is six deer, two of which may be antlered, and four of which may be antlerless.
  • No daily bag limit.
  • Sunday hunting is permitted on some game lands (identified as 7-days-per-week), however, the following is prohibited on Sundays:
  • Hunting with a firearm between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
  • Use of firearms to hunt deer with the use of dogs.
  • Hunting with a firearm within 500 yards of a place of religious worship or any accessory structure thereof.
  • New CWD regulations in effect in CWD Surveillance Areas, see KNOW CWD section below.
  • A statewide regulation on the use of certain deer urine and other cervid excretions has been approved and goes into effect Aug. 30. Read the press release for more information.
 

Where to Hunt

Over 2 million acres of game lands are available to the public for hunting. Search our interactive Game Land Maps by county, address, or filter by species or facilities. Hunting on private lands is permitted with written permission signed by the landowner or lessee.

Printable maps are available too:

Mountain Region

Piedmont Region

Coastal Region

 

On March 31, 2022 officials with the Wildlife Commission announced the first detection of CWD in a hunter-harvested buck from Yadkin County. On Aug. 18, a second positive deer was detected in the same area from ongoing testing on deer taken under depredation permits.

In response to the initial positive detection in the northwestern corner of the state, surveillance areas were designated, and new regulations established to address the disease. Eight counties fall partially or entirely within the Primary and Secondary CWD Surveillance Areas, marked by yellow and red outlines on this interactive map.

CWD testing is available across the state at sample drop-off stations and at Cervid Health Cooperators, which are both indicated on the interactive map.

Inside the Surveillance Areas

In both Surveillance Areas:

  • A sample from all deer harvested during blackpowder and parts of gun season must be submitted to the Wildlife Commission for testing. Mandatory testing dates vary between the Primary and Secondary Surveillance Areas.
  • The use of certain deer urine and other cervid excretions are restricted.
  • Prohibitions on wildlife feeding, excluding bird feeders, continue through August 31. Baiting deer will be legal in both Surveillance Areas Sept. 1, 2022 – Jan. 1, 2023, and for the purpose of hunting within the established urban archery season in participating municipalities. The placement of minerals or salt to purposefully congregate wildlife is prohibited year-round in the Surveillance Areas.
  • Deer hunters should be aware of carcass transportation restrictions that prohibit the transport of deer carcasses and carcass parts out of the Primary and Secondary Surveillance Areas with some noted exceptions.

Outside the Surveillance Zones

Extensive testing will continue across the state. What to expect:

  • Voluntary check stations at some meat processors. 
  • More self-serve sample drop-off stations where hunters can voluntarily drop off deer heads for testing.  
  • Increased efforts to test deer from roadkill, taxidermists and meat processers. 
  • Continued enforcement of importation laws

Don’t Give it a Ride

CWD is highly transmissible. It spreads via infected saliva, urine and feces of live deer, or the movement of deer carcasses and carcass parts. Since deer that are infected may appear healthy, it is imperative to take precautions when transporting or disposing of deer carcasses.

Responsible disposal methods:

  • Bury the deer remains where you harvest the animal when possible.
  • Double bag deer remains for disposal at the closest landfill.
  • Leave the deer remains on the ground where the animal was harvested.
 

Hemorrhagic Disease Reported in Numerous North Carolina Counties

Scattered observations of sick and dead deer have been reported across the state late this summer and are linked to a sporadic outbreak of hemorrhagic disease. While the population effects of a hemorrhagic disease outbreak are much more temporary than the long-term declines that result from CWD, hunters may find dead deer near water early this season and may notice rings in the hooves of some deer that have recovered from hemorrhagic disease. 

 
 

Home from the HuntTM Reminders

Archery

  • Always point the bow or crossbow in a safe direction.
  • Only nock or load an arrow when it’s safe to shoot.
  • Keep your finger off the bow trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  • Be sure of your target and what is in front of it, immediately behind it, and beyond it.
  • Avoid dry-firing a bow or crossbow (releasing the string without a loaded arrow). It may cause serious damage to the bow or crossbow and can injure the shooter. 
 

Firearm

  • Always point the muzzle of your firearm in a safe direction.
  • Adhere to established safe zones of fire.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, especially when preparing to shoot. Ensure that there aren’t any houses, vehicles or people in front of or behind your target.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
 

Treestand

Preparing to use your tree stand:

  • Remove all your equipment and inspect it for damage before using it. This includes belts, chains, bolts, ratchet straps and attachment cords. Replace them if necessary.
  • Wear a full-body safety harness as part of a fall-arrest system.
  • Ensure you do not exceed the stand manufacturer’s maximum height or weight limits.
  • Pack an emergency signal device, such as a cell phone, two-way radio or a whistle.

Setting up your tree stand:

  • Share your stand location with someone before each hunt.
  • Select a healthy, straight tree for your tree stand.
  • Ask someone to assist you with setting up the stand.

Using your tree stand:

  • Buckle your harness securely and connect to the tree tether before your feet leave the ground.
  • Maintain three points of contact when climbing the ladder; two hands and a foot or two feet and a hand. Most falls occur when climbing up or down.
  • Use a lineman’s belt and/or lifeline when climbing or descending.
  • Raise and lower equipment using a haul line – never carry anything as you climb.
 

Access for All

Disabled sportsmen and women have more opportunities than ever to hunt on game lands and hone their skills for hunting season at a shooting range. Hunting blinds, hunt certifications, permit hunts, Huntmaster Units and track chairs are available for hunters with limited physical mobility. 

 

National Hunting and Fishing Day

On Sept. 24, the Wildlife Commission will host two events in celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day. Join us for a day of fun with the family either at the John Lentz Hunter Education Complex or the John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center doing all things related to outdoor recreation and conservation. Admission is FREE!

 

To report deer that appear to be sick or diseased, call 866-318-2401. 

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

 

 
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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.

 
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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. 

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.