Wildlife Commission Email Updates

 

Get the latest from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission sent right to your inbox. Subscribe to one or all the lists!

  • 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.
  • Conservation News: Launching soon!  Delve into the latest updates on wildlife conservation projects, habitat restoration endeavors, and success stories that highlight the resilience of North Carolina's wildlife and habitats. This newsletter is your window into the tireless work of the NCWRC in safeguarding the state's wildlife for future generations.  Stay informed about upcoming events, educational programs, and opportunities to get involved in conservation efforts across North Carolina.
  • Game Land Updates: Immerse yourself in the untamed beauty of our state's game lands as we provide you with the latest updates, insider information, and captivating stories surrounding the diverse habitats and outdoor adventures they offer.  This newsletter is your gateway to understanding the importance of these carefully managed areas for hunting, fishing, hiking, and wildlife observation.  Issues will showcase the NCWRC's commitment to conservation, habitat restoration, and sustainable game management practices. Learn about wildlife habitats and the unique wildlife that call these game lands home and gain insights into how responsible outdoor recreation contributes to the overall well-being of these ecosystems.
  • NCWRC Fishing Education Team: Receive a weekly e-newsletter on the latest fishing classes offered by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. The Fishing and Aquatic Education Team is responsible for developing fun and educational programs for anglers of all ages and skill levels. Classes are free.
  • NCWRC Rulemaking: Periodic emails advising the public on pending rulemaking by the agency.
  • Survey Participation: Embark on a journey of exploration and conservation with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission by joining our survey community. Your voice matters, and together, we can make a positive impact on the diverse and vibrant wildlife that calls North Carolina home.  Signing up for our surveys opens the door to exciting opportunities to be a part of our meaningful initiatives. Whether you're a seasoned outdoors enthusiast, a nature lover, or just curious about wildlife, our surveys cater to all levels of experience. From birdwatching observations to habitat assessments, our surveys cover a wide range of topics.

 

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..

2024 NC Wildlife Updates

April 4, 2024 Spring Edition

More Access to our Beautiful N.C. Waterways 

Two new public access areas in Ashe County are now open for use on the South Fork New River. The Hartzog Ford Public Fishing Area and the New River Park Public Fishing Area southeast of Jefferson are the result of collaborations among Ashe County, Dept. of Transportation and state governments, and the New River Conservancy, our staff at NCWRC, and generous donations of land (Maryann Mueller and Diana Travis), and labor and equipment (Vannoy Construction).  

For locations of publicly accessible fishing piers, boat ramps, and canoe/kayak launches, and places that provide bank and wade fishing opportunities and fish attractor sites visit:

Where to Fish (ncwildlife.org) 

Where to Boat (ncwildlife.org) 

 

Guidance for Springtime Animal Encounters

It’s that time of year when we experience an increase in wildlife encounters as spring brings new life and species come out of hibernation. We offer helpful guidance when encountering some of the most common wildlife as they become more visible this time of year.

 

Wildlife Sightings Wanted

Tally up the Terrapins 

Turtle lovers and coastal area kayakers, this is right up your alley! We are seeking volunteer kayakers to help collect data on the diamondback terrapin. They’re listed in North Carolina as a species of special concern and a Species of Greatest Conservation Need. They live near the coast in brackish and saltwater marshes, estuaries and tidal creeks, so kayaking is the perfect way to get up close and collect important data about this species.

 

Submit Alligator Sightings through iNaturalist

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

 

Report Hellbender and Mudpuppy Sightings

Anglers' alert! Hatchery supported trout waters open for the season on April 6, and NCWRC is asking the public to report sightings of hellbenders and mudpuppies to Lori.Williams@ncwildlife.org, include a physical location (GPS coordinates preferred) and a photo or video, or contact the NC Wildlife Helpline, 866-318-2401, and provide details of the observation.

 

Watch for Waterbirds

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

Want to learn more about the work our Wildlife Diversity Program staff are conducting on behalf of nongame and endangered wildlife in North Carolina? If so, check out the 2023 4th Quarter Wildlife Diversity Report, along with quarterly and annual reports dating back to 2007!

 

Appalachian Cottontail Study

They’re about as hard to spot as the Easter Bunny itself! We don’t know much about Appalachian cottontails, but we do know there are factors that may be impacting its population and we are working with a research group to learn more so this mountain-loving rabbit remains a species to appreciate in N.C. It will provide data that may be useful if a deadly and fast-spreading disease called RHDV2- makes it way to N.C. Both Georgia and Tennessee have reported positive cases of the disease to include pet rabbits. 

 

Conservation Experts Sought to Join Wildlife Advisory Committee for Nongame Animals 

Nominations for our Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee (NWAC) are being accepted through April 19. NWAC comprises North Carolina citizens who use their scientific, academic and habitat expertise to provide recommendations on nongame wildlife conservation issues for the state’s most vulnerable wildlife populations.

 

Collaborative Efforts Will Better Protect Peregrine Falcons

Just as these majestic birds were making a comeback from a 1970s battle with pollutants (DDT), a recent increase in rock climbing became a potential threat to the falcons nesting in our state. So, the U.S. Forest Service, Wildlife Commission and Carolina Climbers Coalition came together with a solution that was agreeable to the climbers while keeping these birds of prey safe.

 

Hatchery Supported Trout Waters Open April 6

Staff are stocking over 600,000 trout in hatchery supported waters—96 percent of which will average 10 inches in length, with the other 4 percent exceeding 14 inches in length.   

Please note, the Bobby N. Setzer State Fish Hatchery will undergo a major renovation beginning in 2025. Setzer produces over 75% of trout for the agency’s trout stocking program. Trout stockings will not be impacted in 2024. However, there will be a reduction in trout stockings during the 2025, 2026 and potentially 2027 trout stocking seasons. We will continue to update the public during this important process, which ultimately ensures the sport of trout fishing will robustly continue in North Carolina for future generations.  

 

Coastal Rivers Fisheries Reports Now Available as Videos!

The popular weekly Coastal Rivers Fisheries Reports are now available in video form. These reports can all be viewed throughout the season. While you’re there consider subscribing to our channel and turning on notifications, so you won’t miss out on new content as it’s posted.

 

Podcast Coastal Shad Fishing with NC Wildlife Biologist David Belkoski

Our two bald biologists, Ben and Corey, talk spring shad fishing with N.C. Wildlife biologist David Belkoski. No shad topic is safe. They will cover the biology of shad and fishing for them throughout the N.C. coast. Listen in to glean tips to better shad fishing and understand why shad migrate from the Bay of Fundy to our back yards.   

 

What's In Season

Wild Turkey Spring Season April 13 – May 11 (bearded or male turkey only) 

Wild Turkey Youth Only April 6 –12 (bearded or male turkey only) 

Download or bookmark the 2023-24 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

 

Turkey Season is Here! Reminders to Keep You Informed and Safe

 

Safety Reminders

Safety is a priority while hunting so be sure to heed these guidelines: 

  • 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.   
 

Take a Class!

We conduct and partner with other groups on numerous wildlife-related educational classes and workshops, events and certification programs. Many of the programs are free or require a nominal fee. 

 

These Coastal Islands Are for the Birds! 

Egrets, terns, oystercatchers, pelicans and a variety of other waterbirds rely on the dredged material islands, managed by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, as key nesting habitat. Wildlife in North Carolina magazine takes a close look at these islands, their history and their annual migratory visitors in the March/April issue. Check out the article and the stunning photographs! (flipping book) Subscribe now for as little as $10 to receive the award-winning magazine! 

 
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March 21, 2024 Trout Fishing Special Edition

2024 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.

 

Check Your License    

Buy or renew a license online, at a Wildlife Service Agent office or call 833-950-0575 , 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.

We encourage you to purchase or renew your license online for faster service. For existing customers, you will need your WRC ID # available to log into your account.

Review the 2023-2024 N.C. Regulations Digest, available in print at your local Wildlife Service Agent, or download a copy (flipbook/PDF) from our website, or view the regulations online. You can also access the regulations digest on the Wildlife Commission's new mobile app, which is available for iPhone and Android. The guide provides important information about season dates, hunting licenses, game lands, regulations and more.

 

Hatchery Supported Trout Waters Open April 6

Approximately 1,000 miles of Hatchery Supported Trout Waters will open on April 6 at 7 a.m. and remain open through Feb. 28, 2025. Most trout are stocked April through June, with a few streams selectively stocked in July. Overall, staff will stock nearly 600,000 trout — 96 percent of which will average 10 inches in length, with the other 4 percent exceeding 14 inches in length.

Visit our Trout Fishing page to download a PDF of the 2024 Hatchery Trout Stocking schedule. Check back on a regular basis since the schedule is subject to change depending on weather conditions and unforeseen circumstances.

 

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 May 31. Anglers may begin to harvest trout on June 1, 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!

 

Trout Water Classification 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. 

 

Fish Hatchery Renovation/Expansion Will Impact Trout Stocking Next Year

The Bobby N. Setzer State Fish Hatchery will undergo a major renovation beginning in 2025. Setzer produces over 75% of trout for the agency’s trout stocking program. Trout stockings will not be impacted in 2024. However, there will be a reduction in trout stockings during the 2025, 2026 and potentially 2027 trout stocking seasons. We will continue to update the public during this important process, which ultimately ensures the sport of trout fishing will robustly continue in North Carolina for future generations.

 

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 Trout Unlimited State Council. 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!

 

 

Better Fishing with 2 Bald Biologists Podcasts - Listen and Subscribe Today!

Wildlife Commission biologists and avid anglers Corey Oakley and Ben Ricks host a monthly podcast to help anglers understand more about the fish and fisheries in North Carolina. "Better Fishing with 2 Bald Biologists" podcasts link the research and surveys conducted by the agency to fishing in North Carolina. Missed an episode? Catch up on past podcasts like muskie fishing on the French Broad, smallmouth bass fishing in western NC rivers, conserving North Carolina's only native trout — the brook trout — and so many more.

Got fishing questions? Corey and Ben have the answers! Send your questions to twobaldbiologists@ncwildlife.org, and start listening!

 

Wading Safety and Etiquette Webinar Scheduled for March 22

The Wildlife Commission offers free fishing classes for all ages and abilities. Check out the course calendar for the variety of courses available. On March 22 at 6 - 9 p.m., the agency is holding a Fly-fishing Basics: Wading Safety and Etiquette webinar to maximize your experience on the water. Common etiquette among fly anglers and how to stay safe in different conditions will be the topics of this webinar.

 

Report Hellbender and Mudpuppy Sightings

Commission Wildlife biologists are asking the public, particularly anglers as opening day of Hatchery Supported Trout Waters approaches on April 1, to report any sightings of hellbenders and mudpuppies. Both types of aquatic salamanders are found in western North Carolina and listed in North Carolina as species of special concern. If you spot one, note its location (physical location or GPS coordinates), snap a photo if possible and send to Lori.Williams@ncwildlife.org. People can also call the Wildlife Commission's NC Wildlife Helpline, 866-318-2401, and provide details of the observation. 

 

Fishing for Answers

New anglers often have a lot of questions, so Wildlife Commission staff compiled a list of commonly asked questions posed by those new to fishing in the 2023 May/June issue of Wildlife in North Carolina magazine.

"Where can I fish?"

"Can you help me understand trout regulations?"

"Any tips on how to handle fish when I catch one?"

These questions and more are addressed in "Fishing for Answers". If you enjoy this free article, be sure to subscribe today at these great rates:

Print & Digital: $15

Print Only: $12 

Digital Only: $10 

 
 
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March 8, 2024 Wild Turkey Special Edition

Turkey Hunting in North Carolina

North Carolina’s five-week wild turkey season opens in April. Review the current rules & regulations in the 2023-24 North Carolina Regulations Digest prior to heading out for the hunt.

 

Youth Turkey Season: April 6 - 12; Statewide Turkey Season: April 13 – May 11

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.

 

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

  • Buy or renew a license online, at a Wildlife Service Agent office or call 833-950-0575, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday. We encourage you to purchase or renew your license online for faster service. For existing customers, you will need your WRC ID # available to log into your account.
  • Request a Big Game Harvest Report Card with your license, which is required when hunting big game.
  • Review the 2023-2024 N.C. Regulations Digest, available in print at your local Wildlife Service Agent, or download a copy (flipbook/PDF) from our website, or view the regulations online. You can also access the regulations digest on the Wildlife Commission's new mobile app, which is available for iPhone and Android. The guide provides important information about season dates, hunting licenses, game lands, regulations and more.
 

No Cell Service? No Problem!

Harvested a turkey but don't have cell service? Now you can report your big game harvest while in the field without cell service by using the Go Outdoors North Carolina app. Get the app for iPhone and Android.

 

Harvest Reports

If 2024 is anything like the last few years, it will be a successful turkey season for many hunters. In 2023, North Carolina’s 5-week wild turkey season had its highest ever recorded harvest of 24,089 birds. Wildlife biologists say the state’s turkey population remains strong 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. Please note: Some game lands require a special permit, so be sure to check specific information for the game land you plan to hunt.

 

Turkey Hunting Resources

Trouble-Shooting Turkeys - download this 4-page printable handout by Michael Pearce of common maladies and cures to hunting gobblers.

 

Free Turkey 101 Workshops Scheduled for March

The Wildlife Commission's Learn To Hunt Program is a great way for novice hunters to learn basic hunting skills, equipment and strategies including a brief game processing and cooking overview. Each workshop is 8 hours (in person). Please review event summary before registering.

Attendee Requirements:

  • Never hunted or have not actively hunted for more than 3 years.
  • Lacking social support; no readily available hunting family members or friends.
  • Lapsed (inactive hunters), including those who have never harvested big game.

Attendee Prerequisites:

  • Hunter Safety Certification
  • Valid North Carolina Hunting License NOTE: Big game tags required for big game (e.g., deer, turkey and bear)

For Learn to Hunt program-related questions email learntohunt@ncwildlife.org.

For Licensing questions contact 833-950-0575 or info@gooutdoorsnorthcarolina.com.

 

Hunter Education

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

 

Safety Reminders

Safety is a priority while hunting so be sure to heed these guidelines:

  • 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. 

 

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, indicating that the current spring turkey hunting season offers hunters the chance to pursue turkeys at a time when substantial gobbling occurs. Bring on the spring!

 

Turkey Hunting from a Blind - Wildlife in North Carolina FREE Article

Ground blinds offer turkey hunters easy access to the outdoors. Wildlife in North Carolina associate editor Mike Zlotnicki shares advice on selecting affordable and well-built blinds, erecting and using ground blinds to target different species, and knowing the rules and regulations on turkey hunting.

 

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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Feb. 28, 2024 Wildlife Update

Awareness About Impacts of Invasive Species

In 2023, Zebra Mussels and Apple Snails were discovered in two waterbodies in N.C. Zebra Mussels cause damage to waterways, filtration systems and boats, while Apple Snails are a potential human health risk.

This week, the last week in February, is recognized as National Invasive Species Awareness Week, which raises awareness on the negative economic, ecological and potentially human health impacts of invasive species. The public can report possible invasive species sightings through NCWRC’s Aquatic Nuisance Species Reporting Tool and learn to identify nuisance species previously discovered in N.C. by visiting our Aquatic Nuisance Species webpage. In addition, The North American Invasive Species Management Association is offering educational webinars about invasive species.

 

Budd Sworn in as New Commissioner 

The NCWRC welcomed returning Commissioner Joseph (Joe) R. Budd of Winston-Salem to its governing board. Budd was sworn in on Jan. 30. He previously served as NCWRC’s District 7 commissioner from 2014 to 2020.  He was appointed as an At-Large member by Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger and will serve through June 2025. Budd enjoys spending time with family, is an active pilot, and enjoys bird hunting, boating and fishing. 

 

Educating the Educated about our Environment 

Wildlife education is a pillar of NCWRC. We proudly participate in the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies’ Project WILD program. It provides wildlife-based conservation and environmental professional development training to educators of students ranging from 3 years old to adult. 

If you know any educators (such as public-school teachers, university and community college professors, early childhood regional trainers, zoo, nature center and aquarium educators, Soil and Water educators and state park rangers) who may be interested in becoming a volunteer facilitator, email tanya.poole@ncwildlife.org

 

NCWRC Employees' Commitment to Wildlife Recognized

NCWRC Conservation Technician Chris Henline (left photo) has spent his career supporting our wildlife mission. He was recently awarded for his commitment by receiving the Joe Kurz Wildlife Manager of the Year National Award from the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) for decades of outstanding wild turkey and wildlife habitat management.

“I have been fortunate to watch the turkey population expand and grow across the state over my 29 years of service,” said Henline. “The fact that I had a hand in reestablishing this great bird is one of the greatest accomplishments of my career. Turkey management has always been one of my favorite activities of this job, and I am so honored and humbled to be recognized by the NWTF for doing something that I truly enjoy.”

In addition, the North Carolina state chapter of NWTF has awarded District 6 Master Officer Sampson Parker (right photo) the 2023 Wildlife Officer of the Year. Officer Parker has been with the agency for 10 years and serves the Mecklenburg County area. He is an avid turkey, deer and waterfowl hunter, and is known by the community, law enforcement agencies and the public as always demonstrating a professional and friendly demeanor. NCWRC leadership describe him as “an officer who simply works hard and gets results.”

Congratulations Chris and Sampson on these well-deserved recognitions!

 

Best wishes to the 60th Basic Academy, Class of 2024!

In January, 18 individuals from across the country embarked on a journey to become N.C. Wildlife Law Enforcement Officers. They are now wildlife officer recruits and currently attending the 60th N.C. Wildlife Basic Law Enforcement Training Academy in Jackson Springs. As one of the top training programs in the country, the Academy provides recruits with more than 1,100 hours of instruction over 29 weeks. This training includes North Carolina Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET), driving, firearms, defensive tactics/TASER/Baton, boating, swimming, fish identification, waterfowl identification, constitutional law and game and fish law. View our 7-minute "Law Enforcement Off the Pavement" video to learn more about what it takes to be a Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer in N.C.

 

Find a Bear Den? Leave it Alone!

Black bears are very resourceful in finding places to shelter November through April. Dens may be found in piles of brush, a crawl space, rock cavities, excavations under fallen trees or a hollowed-out tree. If the den is found on either private or public property, leave the area quickly and quietly and do not disturb the den for the rest of the winter season. If the den is found under a deck, shed or crawl space, leave the area and call the NC Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401, or contact your local district wildlife biologist for further guidance. But in almost all cases, the best option is to simply stay away from the den area. 

 

Meet and Greet in Raleigh

Planning on attending the Dixie Deer Classic on March 1 -3 at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh? Be sure to stop by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s booth in the Exposition Center. Chat with biologists, wildlife law enforcement officers and Wildlife in North Carolina magazine editors. Subscribe or renew your subscription to the magazine while you’re there and receive a free 2024 Wildlife Calendar (while supplies last)!

 

Youth Hunter Education Skills Tournaments Scheduled for March 

More than 3,500 students will compete in NCWRC’s annual Youth Hunter Education Skills Tournaments in March. Events include shotgun, archery, rifle and a written hunting skills exam. Sixty teams will move on to compete at the state tournament on April 27 at the John Lentz Hunter Education Complex in Ellerbe. The public is welcome to attend.

 

2024 Harvest Season Closed for Striped Bass on the Roanoke River

Due to a decline in the abundance of striped bass in the Roanoke River, NCWRC has closed the 2024 striped bass harvest season in the Roanoke River Management Area to include the Roanoke River and tributaries from the Roanoke Rapids Lake Dam downstream to the Albemarle Sound (this includes the Cashie, Middle and Eastmost rivers). Anglers may continue to catch and release striped bass throughout the spring despite no harvest season.

NCWRC recommends anglers use a single, barbless circle hook when fishing with natural bait or a lure with a single, barbless hook to reduce handling stress on fish that are released. This is a requirement from April 1 through June 30 when fishing in the upper Roanoke River above the US Highway 258 bridge near Scotland Neck.

 

Hatchery Supported Trout Waters to Close for Stocking Feb. 29-April 6

Approximately 1,000 miles of Hatchery Supported Trout Waters will close to fishing at 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 29 and reopen at 7 a.m. on April 6. While fishing is closed, Wildlife Commission staff will stock the designated waters, which are marked by green-and-white signs, in preparation for opening day. 

 

Trout Fishing In North Carolina – Delayed Harvest Stocking Resumes March 1!

Hatchery staff will resume stockings of Delayed Harvest Trout Waters in March. Delayed Harvest anglers have different opportunities based on the time of year. For example, these waters are catch-and-release, and only lures with one single hook may be used from Oct. 1 until the first Saturday in June. However, in June, the harvest period of the regulations begins (i.e., the delayed harvest). This year, on June 1 (the first Saturday in June), only youth under 18 are permitted to fish from 6 a.m.–noon, with no bait restrictions, no minimum length limit, and a seven trout-per-day creel. At noon, these waters open to all anglers under the same regulations until Oct. 1, when catch-and-release regulations go back into effect. 

 

More Recreational Water Access Ready for Use

There’s a new public fishing area with a kayak launch at Valdese Lakeside Park on Lake Rhodhiss (above), located in the foothills north of Hickory. At Surf City Park on the coast, NCWRC completed construction on two new public fishing areas. And at Battle Park located in Rocky Mount, a newly renovated boating access area is now ready for use and two of the public fishing areas have been refurbished. Perfect timing as spring is right around the corner! Enjoy the North Carolina wild!

 

Two Bald Biologists Podcast – Feb. Edition

Our two bald biologists talk with Nick Shaver, NCWRC’s Land and Water Access Division Coastal Ecoregion Supervisor, about boat ramps and public fishing areas across North Carolina. Corey and Ben discuss fishing, boating and the significant work the Land and Water Access Division does for North Carolina anglers and boaters. Nick even shares a secret tip about his favorite lure, the spinner bait. 

 

Need a Wildlife Professional? Make Sure They're Licensed!

Whether you’re looking for someone who can remove raccoons from your attic or rehabilitate an injured opossum, licensed wildlife professionals are available to help. NCWRC regulates and issues licenses to wildlife control agents and wildlife rehabilitators, which ensures these professionals are operating ethically and legally. When looking for assistance, check NCWRC’s Wildlife Control Agent list or wildlife rehabilitator search, or call our Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401 to find a licensed wildlife professional near you. 

 

Free Turkey 101 Workshops Scheduled for March

The Wildlife Commission's Learn To Hunt Program is a great way for novice hunters to learn basic hunting skills, equipment and strategies including a brief game processing and cooking overview. Each workshop is 8 hours (in person). Please review event summary before registering.

Each workshop is 8 hours and in person.

Attendee Requirements:

  • Never hunted or have not actively hunted for more than 3 years.
  • Lacking social support; no readily available hunting family members or friends.
  • Lapsed (inactive hunters), including those who have never harvested big game.

Attendee Prerequisites:

  • Hunter Safety Certification
  • Valid North Carolina Hunting License NOTE: Big game tags required for big game (e.g., deer, turkey and bear)

For Learn to Hunt program-related questions email lth@ncwildlife.org.

For Licensing questions contact 833-950-0575 or info@gooutdoorsnorthcarolina.com.

 

What's In Season

Download or bookmark the 2023-24 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

 

All Creatures Great and Small

N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission biologists work to conserve species big and small, including the tiny bog turtle, whose populations are dwindling due to a variety of threats. Bog turtles are the smallest turtles in North America, reaching an adult length of only 4 to 5 inches.

Read all about them with this sneak peek in Wildlife in North Carolina’s March/April 2024 issue.

Like what you see? Subscribe or give a gift subscription today for as little as $10! 

 
 
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Jan. 26, 2024 Wildlife Update

Public Comment on 2024-25 Proposed Rules Ends Jan. 30

The public comment period for the proposed changes to the 2024-2025 inland fishing, hunting, trapping, and game land regulations and other regulated activities will close Jan. 30 at 11:59 p.m. Comments can be submitted online by email and by mail. Details on the proposed regulations and where to mail comments are available here.

 

Special Waterfowl Hunt Days Scheduled for Feb. 3, Feb. 10

Youth and Veterans/Military Waterfowl Days are scheduled for Feb. 3 and Feb. 10. Both categories of hunters must follow the rules and regulations established for those days as outlined in the Migratory Game Bird Season section of the 2023-2024 North Carolina Regulations DigestNote: The same bag limits during the regular waterfowl season apply for the Youth and Veterans/Military Waterfowl Days.

 

Ways to Help At-Risk Wildlife Species and Their Habitats

Donate All or Portion of Your NC State Income Tax this Season

When you file your North Carolina income taxes this year, please consider donating all or a portion of your refund to the N.C. Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund. Participation is easy: check line 30 on your North Carolina state income tax form; or, if filing through an online tax preparation software, enter the contribution amount when prompted to “N.C. Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund". Your contributions will support research and conservation management projects for the state’s most vulnerable and at-risk wildlife populations.  

 

Round Up on Your Go Outdoors Purchases to Conserve North Carolina's Diverse Wildlife!

Tax time isn't the only time you can donate to help wildlife species and their habitats in North Carolina. Every time you purchase a license, renew a vessel registration or buy merchandise on Go Outdoors North Carolina, you have the option to "round up" your purchase to the nearest 5 dollars. These small donations add up to big results for our Wildlife Diversity Program, which conducts projects and programs that benefit nongame species — animals without an open hunting, fishing, or trapping season — as well as their habitats. North Carolina is home to more than 700 nongame species, which include songbirds, reptiles and amphibians, freshwater mussels, fish and mammals. Even better, game animals, such as wild turkey, bear and quail, also directly benefit from these donations since they share the same habitats as nongame animals.

 

Comment on Virginia Big-Eared Bat Conservation Plan to Help Declining Populations

The Wildlife Commission is requesting public comments for its Virginia Big-eared Bat Conservation Plan through March 1. The conservation plan outlines long-term protections to encourage Virginia-Big-eared Bat (VBEB) population growth through protection of maternity and hibernation sites. These protections include continued monitoring and research of the species and maintaining caves. The VBEB is a federally- and state-listed species that has experience steep population declines due to habitat loss, and cave vandalism, as well as an increase in human activity in maternity roosts and hibernation areas.

Read the Plan here

Comment on the Plan here

 

Learn more about the many ways our staff are helping nongame and endangered wildlife species and their habitats by reading our quarterly reports.

 

January/February Issue of Wildlife in North Carolina Now Available

Check out the FREE article, "Shotguns, Rifles, Hounds and Heart" in the January/February issue of Wildlife in North Carolina an entertaining and engaging read about the Piedmont-based Riverside Sportsman Club, whose members have carried on the traditions of hunting, fishing, camaraderie and ethics for nearly 50 years.

For as little as $10/month, you get North Carolina-specific articles about hunting, fishing and boating, as well as the latest in conservation, habitat and wildlife diversity news delivered right to your inbox or mailbox.

 

Prescribed Burns Benefit Wildlife

Each winter, the Wildlife Commission conducts prescribed burns on its game lands to restore and maintain wildlife habitat. Don’t be alarmed if you see smoke on a game land. Learn more about the benefits of burning by watching our 2-minute video.

 

Attention Bear and Turkey Hunters!

e-Bear Stamp Holders: Please Take Survey

Please help the Wildlife Commission make the best management decisions for black bears and bear hunters by participating in the annual Bear e-stamp Survey. Your participation helps biologists determine if changes in harvest levels are due to changes in hunting methods, the number of bear hunters or actual changes in the bear population. This information will assist them in evaluating both current and future regulations and statutes, as well as management options. 

Even if you did not hunt for bears during the 2023 season, your response is very important.

 

Turkey Hunters: Get Ready for the 2024 Season with these FREE Webinars

To help new and knowledgeable turkey hunters prepare for the upcoming seasons, which start April 6 (youth) and April 13 (statewide), the Wildlife Commission is offering three FREE Turkey Hunting webinars in February. Attend one or all three. All webinars run from 7 - 8:30 p.m.

Participants must preregister.

Feb. 27: Turkey Biology for Hunters, Regulations, Where to Hunt, Scouting

Register here

Feb. 28: Firearms, Ammo, Clothing, Footwear, Misc. Equipment

Register here

Feb. 29: Hunting Techniques and Strategies

Register here

 

Can't make the webinar? No worries, we've got you covered!

Webinar recordings will be available on the Wildlife Commission's YouTube channel in early March, just in time for turkey season!

 

What's In Season

Download or bookmark the 2023-24 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

Small Game and Other Seasons

Bobcat, Grouse, Opossum, Rabbit, Raccoon and Squirrel

Quail, Grouse and Pheasant (male pheasant only)

Crow (on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday of each week)

Migratory Game Birds

Canada Goose (resident)

Doves

Common Snipe, Woodcock

Ducks, Coots, Mergansers, Sea Ducks, Brant, Tundra Swan and Light Geese (includes Snow Geese and Ross's Geese)

 

 

Nominations Sought for Annual Conservation Award

Know someone who has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to sustaining nongame populations and diversity in North Carolina? If so, consider nominating him or her for the Wildlife Commission's Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award. This prestigious award is given annually to people who are leaders in wildlife diversity conservation. See past winners and learn more.

 

New Better Fishing with Two Bald Biologists Podcast: Fishing 101

Listen in as our two bald biologists discuss the basics of fishing tackle and how to get started fishing with minimal expense. If you have never fished and are thinking about starting, whether for yourself or with your kids, this is the podcast for you. Listen all the way to the end to see how you could be eligible for a chance to win a Better Fishing With Two Bald Biologist swag bag!  

 

Last Call for 2023-24 Photo Competition

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. There are two youth categories as well. The grand prize is $200 and the winning photo featured on the July/August 2024 cover of Wildlife in North Carolina. Competition rules are available online.

 

Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee Welcomes New Members

Todd Ewing (left) and David G. Cooper (right) have replaced long-time members Dr. David Webster and Marquette Crockett on the agency's Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee. The 15-member NWAC advises the agency on matters related to the conservation of nongame wildlife in the state. Ewing, who lives in Fuquay-Varina, is a former assistant chief of the Aquatic Wildlife Diversity program for the agency and now works for the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership, while Cooper, from Cary, is a senior environmental scientist at VHB Engineering, Inc.

 
 
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2023 N.C. Wildlife Updates

Dec. 21, 2023 NC Wildlife Update

Happy Holidays!

Thanks for taking this wild ride through 2023 with us! Sharing a 40-second video filled with some incredible moments that make our work here so worthwhile and fulfilling! We look forward to sharing our wildlife adventures in 2024 with you.

 

Subscribe or Renew Your Magazine Subscription this Month for a Chance to Win TWO Great Prize Packs!

Subscribe or renew your subscription to Wildlife in North Carolina magazine this month for as little as $10 a year for two chances to win a fabulous prize pack of outdoor gear worth more than $500 and a grand prize pack worth $1,700!

Or gift someone special a subscription to qualify!

No purchase necessary. See official rules for details. Subscriptions/entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2023. 

 

2024-25 Proposed Regulation Changes - We Want to Hear from You

The public comment period for the 2024-2025 proposed regulation changes related to wildlife management, inland fisheries, game lands and other regulated actives is now open through Jan. 30, 2024. Comments can be submitted online, by email, by mail and in-person at the January 2024 public hearings.

Public Hearing Schedule

Provide your comments at one of four public hearings being held in January. All hearings begin at 7 p.m. The schedule is:

Jan. 9, 2024 - Piedmont Region

Southwest Randolph High School (Auditorium)

1641 Hopewell Friends Road, Asheboro, NC 27205

 

Jan. 11, 2024 - Mountain Region

Haywood Community College (Auditorium)

185 Freedlander Drive, Clyde, NC 28721

 

Jan. 17, 2024 - Coastal Region

Craven County Courthouse

302 Broad Street, New Bern, NC 28560

 

Jan. 18, 2024 - Virtual

(pre-registration required)  

 

CWD By the Numbers as of Dec. 15, 2023

The Wildlife Commission continues to test hunter-harvested deer for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) statewide. As of Dec. 15, 2023, biologists have:

  • Collected tissue samples from 25,368 deer
  • Received “Not Detected” results from 8,187 of those samples
  • Received “Positive” results for five samples (3 Cumberland County, 1 Johnston County, 1 Franklin County)

Biologists expect to receive results on the remaining 17,176 samples in the next four to six weeks and will send out a report on those samples once testing is completed.

The three positive positive samples from Cumberland County this year have come from deer that lived within 8 miles of the initial CWD-positive deer that was detected in Cumberland County last year. This cluster of CWD-positive samples is east of I95 and north of the Cape Fear River.

Get Your CWD Test Results Online

Hunters can verify their submitted CWD sample was received and check their test results by visiting their Go Outdoors North Carolina account. Once they log on, they can see their testing results in the CWD Testing column on the Harvest Reports webpage. Testing results will show as "Pending," "Not Detected," "Inconclusive" or "Positive." Pending results will show as soon as the sample is processed and a record is created. The column will be updated when the testing results are received from the lab.

All hunters who submit a CWD sample will receive an email to the address listed on their Go Outdoors account when agency staff receive the results. The age of the deer, along with other harvest registration information, will also be posted in the harvest history table.

 

What's In Season

Download or bookmark the 2023-24 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 

Black Bear

Small Game and Other Seasons

Bobcat, Grouse, Opossum, Rabbit, Raccoon and Squirrel

Quail, Grouse and Pheasant (male pheasant only)

Crow (on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday of each week; Christmas Day and New Year's Day)

Migratory Game Birds

Canada Goose (resident)

Doves

Common Snipe, Woodcock

Ducks, Coots, Mergansers, Sea Ducks, Tundra Swan and Light Geese (includes Snow Geese and Ross's Geese)

 

 

Wildlife Commission Provides Hunting Safety Tips Amid Increase in Firearms-Related Incidents

So far this hunting season, five fatalities involving hunting with a firearm have been reported, which is more than the past three seasons combined with only one fatality occurring between 2020-2022. Fourteen hunting-related incidents have occurred thus far in 2023, and 11 of them involved a firearm. The Wildlife Commission reminds hunters to practice firearm safety when hunting or using firearms:

  1. Positively identify target before pulling the trigger.  
  2. Always point a firearm in a safe direction.  
  3. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded and never assume it’s unloaded. 
  4. Use binoculars, rather than a rifle scope, to identify the target.  
  5. Keep finger out of the trigger guard and off the trigger until ready to shoot. 
  6. Be sure of the target­ and that there are no houses, vehicles, powerlines, livestock or people in front of or behind it. 
  7. Avoid the use of alcohol and drugs as they may affect judgement when hunting. 
  8. Comply with blaze orange laws as required. 
 

T'is the Season for Trout Fishing in Western, Piedmont Waters

More than 66,000 brook, brown and rainbow trout, all 10 inches or longer, are being stocked through Dec. 21 in 44 small impoundments across the central and western regions of the state. Anglers can harvest up to seven trout per day in the impoundments — with no bait restrictions and no minimum size limits. 

 

Take the Top Shot Challenge in 2024

The Wildlife Commission challenges you to participate in the 2024 Top Shot Challenge, a 12-month, themed target shooting program that is being offered at six agency shooting ranges across the state, beginning Jan. 1. Three categories will be offered based on the firearm used: rifle of any caliber, handgun of any caliber and .22 caliber rifles and pistols. Participants may attempt the challenge once per day, per month for each themed challenge until they complete it.

 

The Billion Dollar Impact of Trout Fishing in North Carolina

Each dollar anglers spend to fish for mountain trout in North Carolina returns $1.93 to the state's economy and results in a $1.38 billion impact, according to a recently completed evaluation by the Wildlife Commission on the socioeconomic aspects of trout fishing in the Tar Heel state. The study explores angler equipment and trip-related expenditures, as well as angler motivation for participating in trout fishing, satisfaction levels and challenges of trout fishing in NC, and feedback on the agency's management of trout.

 

F-1 Hybrid Largemouth Bass Stocking

Thanks to a generous donation of $30,000 by Bass Anglers for NC Lakes in October, the Wildlife Commission will purchase F1 Hybrid Bass fingerlings to stock in lakes Norman, Jordan and Gaston as part of a multi-year F1 Hybrid Bass stocking project. F1 Hybrid are a cross between a Largemouth Bass and a Florida Bass. These hybrids have the potential to increase the quantity of trophy bass in reservoirs. Bass Anglers for NC Lakes plan to continue raising funds in 2024. Watch a 3-minute video of an overview of the project.

 

2023 Hard and Soft Mast Report Now Available

The Wildlife Commission has released its annual mast report, an overview of 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. Visit the Commission's website for hard and soft mass reports since 2003.

 

From left to right: Wildlife Commission Chairman, Monty Crump, Wildlife Management Chief, Brad Howard (second from right) and Wildlife Commission Executive Director Cameron Ingram (far right) present the Lawrence Diedrick Small Game Awards to Richard Broadwell (left photo) and Dr. Theron Terhune of Orton Plantation.

Wildlife Commission Presents Small Game Awards

The Broadwell Family of Bladen County and Orton Plantation in Brunswick County are the 2023 recipients of the Lawrence G. Diedrick Small Game Awards, presented annually by the Wildlife Commission.  Richard Broadwell accepted the individual award and Dr. Theron Terhune, Orton’s lead research scientist, accepted the organization/group award during the commissioners' meeting on Dec. 7.

“Supporting habitat conservation and management is vital to the sustainability of wildlife for our state. When people and organizations step up, as the Broadwells and Orton have done, and provide opportunities for our environment to thrive, it is important to acknowledge them for their generosity and commitment.”

Brad Howard, Wildlife Management Division Chief

 

 

The Latest Better Fishing with Two Bald Biologists Podcast

NC Wildlife’s Two Bald Biologists talk kayak fishing with the North Carolina Kayak Fishing Association’s president, Mark Patterson, an avid and diverse kayak angler. We cover fishing for everything from Redear Sunfish to Flathead Catfish. If you are interested in getting into kayak fishing or are currently floating down a creek, this is the podcast for you. The conversation even touches on a fish biologist’s stance on a non-fish creature, the elusive Sasquatch. 

 

Attend a Free Basic Fly-fishing Workshop in Fayetteville

The Wildlife Commission is conducting two free basic fly-fishing workshops at its Pechmann Fishing Education Center, in Fayetteville, on Jan. 6 and Jan. 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

These workshops are perfect for those with zero experience, those looking to refine their skills and everyone in between by teaching tactile and visual cues that are easy to understand. Rigorously trained and passionate volunteer instructors will guide participants through the roll cast and basic cast using Joan Wulff's method of fly-casting instruction, which provides the beginning fly-angler with the foundations for more advanced casting.

Participants must be at least 13, and any who are 15 or younger will need an on-site parent or guardian. Please wear close-toed shoes, a hat with a visor and eyewear (glasses or polarized sunglasses are acceptable).

All fly-rods and necessary equipment are provided.

Register for the Jan. 6 workshop

Register for the Jan. 27 workshop

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Nov. 15, 2023 NC Wildlife Update

Expansion Begins for Wildlife Law Enforcement Training Facility in Moore County

In October, the Wildlife Commission broke ground on a $10 million law enforcement training facility expansion at the Samarcand Training Academy. The expansion will include a 20,000-square foot, multi-floor structure with housing to accommodate about 50 agency personnel, along with a 1,200-square foot classroom and a tactical training room. The Wildlife Commission has been training its recruits at Samarcand through a lease agreement with the Department of Public Safety since 2021. The expansion should be completed by August 2024.

 

16 New Wildlife Officer Positions Added to Roster

The Wildlife Law Enforcement Division will increase its current number of officers from 208 to 224 after the N.C. General Assembly approved funding for the additional positions in October. This is the first increase in officer positions in 46 years and comes in response to North Carolina's population growth, as well as increases in annual vessel registrations and hunting, fishing and trapping license sales. The application period for the next Wildlife Law Enforcement Basic Academy will begin May 24, 2024. Learn more about careers in Wildlife Law Enforcement.

“Adding 16 new officer positions to our Wildlife Law Enforcement Division, along with the extra capacity to train officers, will allow us to better protect and conserve our state’s wildlife, habitats and natural resources. It will also allow us to keep our public safe on the waterways and the lands that everyone enjoys.”  

- Cameron Ingram, Executive Director, Wildlife Commission

 

November is National Wild Game Meat Donation Month

Deer Hunters: Donate A Portion of Your Harvest to the North Carolina Hunters for the Hungry Program

‘Tis the season to give . . . and with prices increasing on just about everything, including food, some less fortunate folks have been hit hard. One way to help out fellow North Carolinians is by donating your legally harvested deer to the N.C. Hunters for the Hungry program. Drop off stations at approved meat processors across the state make it convenient and easy to donate.

Deer taken to processors must be in acceptable condition and in a form compliant with agency transport rules.

Any deer harvested within a Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance area must be tested prior to donation or the deer's head must be provided to the meat processing location for sample collection to test for CWD.

 

What's in Season

Download or bookmark the 2023-24 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 

Black Bear

Small Game and Other Seasons

Bobcat, Grouse, Opossum, Rabbit, Raccoon & Squirrel

Quail, Grouse and Pheasant (male pheasant only)

Migratory Game Birds

Canada Goose (resident)

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

Common Snipe

Ducks, Coots, Mergansers, Sea Ducks, Tundra Swan, Light Geese (includes Snow Geese and Ross's Geese)

 

Get Your 2024 Wildlife Calendars Before They're Gone!

Our stunning 2024 Wildlife Calendar makes the perfect gift for everyone on your gift-giving list this holiday season. Each calendar is $9 and can be purchased on our new Go Outdoors North Carolina e-store. The e-store makes it easier than ever to order your calendar, plus other Wildlife Commission-exclusive products, such as hats and mugs.

Order calendars by Nov. 26 to guarantee delivery by Dec. 25.

 

Bundle Up for Only $15 - For a Limited Time Only!

Our stunning 2024 Wildlife Calendar with a print subscription to our award-winning magazine, Wildlife in North Carolina, is back by popular demand. This $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. Available with new subscriptions and renewals. Gifting options are available. 

Offer ends Nov. 26 or while supplies last.

For questions or information about the gift bundle, please call 800-786-2721 or email josh.leventhal@ncwildlife.org

 

Subscribe to Wildlife in North Carolina and Enter to Win!

Bundling the 2024 Wildlife Calendar AND the Wildlife in North Carolina magazine is always a great deal. An even better deal is the chance to win great prizes when you purchase or renew a magazine subscription this month! Anyone who subscribes or renews a subscription is automatically entered into a drawing for some great outdoor gear, including a rifle scope, portable heater and knife set. Visit ncwildlife.org/WINC to learn more and enter. You can also get ready for the start of deer season with this complimentary article (flipping book) from Wildlife in North Carolina about permit-only waterfowl hunts on Eastern game lands.

 

Winter Trout Stockings Set for November and December

More than 67,000 brook, brown and rainbow trout, all 10 inches or longer, are being stocked from Nov. 29 - Dec. 21 in 44 small impoundments across the central and western regions of the state. Anglers can harvest up to seven trout per day in the impoundments — with no bait restrictions and no minimum size limits. 

 

Hunter Information

Deer and Bear License and Privilege Requirements

With deer and bear hunting now in season, you may be wondering what licenses and privileges you need to purchase to be in compliance. We've broken it down for you below, and you can also find the information on our Hunting, Fishing, Trapping License page.

Resident Bear Hunting

  • License with hunting and Big Game privileges – Lifetime or Annual - Comprehensive Hunting, Sportsman, and Unified Sportsman License include the Big Game Privilege or the Resident Hunt and Resident Hunt/Inland Fish Comb License can be purchased along with the Big Game Privilege sold separately
  • Bear Management E-Stamp – Individuals who obtained a Lifetime License with the Big Game Privilege prior to July 1, 2013, are eligible for a no-cost Bear Management E-Stamp

Resident Deer Hunting

  • License with hunting and Big Game privileges – Lifetime or Annual – Comprehensive Hunting, Sportsman, and Unified Sportsman License include the Big Game Privilege or the Resident Hunt and Resident Hunt/Inland Fish Comb License can be purchased along with the Big Game Privilege sold separately
  • Big Game Harvest Report Card – Deer Tags 4 Antlerless and 2 Antlered – Included with license containing Big Game Privilege

Nonresident Bear Hunting

  • Nonresident hunting license and Nonresident Big Game Privilege - Lifetime, Annual, or 10-Day – Nonresident hunting license can be purchased in combination with the Nonresident Big Game Privilege or a Lifetime License containing the Big Game Privilege
  • Nonresident Bear License – Nonresidents who obtained a nonresident or resident lifetime license containing the Big Game Privilege prior to May 24, 1994, are exempt from obtaining the Nonresident Bear License
  • Bear Management E-Stamp - Individuals who obtained a resident or nonresident Lifetime License with the Big Game Privilege prior to July 1, 2013, are eligible for a no-cost Bear Management E-Stamp

Nonresident Deer Hunting

  • Nonresident hunting license and Nonresident Big Game Privilege - Lifetime, Annual, or 10-Day – Nonresident hunting license can be purchased in combination with the Nonresident Big Game Privilege or a Lifetime License containing the Big Game Privilege
  • Big Game Harvest Report Card – Deer Tags 4 Antlerless and 2 Antlered – Included with license containing Big Game Privilege
 

Reporting and tagging your big game harvest have never been easier with the new Go Outdoors North Carolina app for IOS and Android! Tap "Learn More" to download the app and get started!

 

Reminder - Turn In Poachers (TIP)

The NC WILDTIP reporting system is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Tips can be submitted via an online form, text and our WILDTIP app for Android devices. The TIP (Turn-in-Poachers) Program pays rewards to persons who provide information that result in the arrest and conviction of persons who have committed certain wildlife offenses. Rewards range from $100 to $1000 depending on the severity of the crime and the fines assessed by the court. Information on reporting a tip along with a complete list of eligible violations.

 

Get the Latest on CWD Numbers in North Carolina

Visit our CWD website, KNOW CWD, to get the lastest information on how many deer have been tested and how many positive results have been found so far in the state. Also on the website are an interactive map, which delineates the 18 counties that fall within CWD Surveillance areas; information on testing stations; statewide CWD regulations; and much more.

 

Get Your CWD Testing Results Online

Hunters now have an online CWD testing tool to verify their submitted CWD sample was received and to check their test results. Once they log into their Go Outdoors North Carolina account, hunters can see their testing results in the CWD Testing column on the Harvest Reports webpage. Testing results will show Pending, Not Detected, Inconclusive or Positive. Pending Results will show as soon as the sample is processed and a record is created. The column will be updated when the testing results are received from the lab.

All hunters who submit a CWD sample will receive an email to the address listed on their Go Outdoors account when agency staff get the results.  

 

First Case of CWD Confirmed in Johnston County

In October, a doe harvested in Johnston County tested postive for CWDthe first case of CWD confirmed in the county. CWD is a fatal disease in deer that spreads by infected saliva, urine and feces of live deer or the movement of deer carcasses and carcass parts. The Wildlife Commission recommends that whole deer carcasses and high-risk carcass parts remain in Johnston County or be taken to a processor or taxidermist participating in the Cervid Cooperator Progam in an adjacent county for proper carcass disposal and test submission.

 

New Invasive Aquatic Species Online Reporting Tool

With the recent discovery of two new invasive aquatic species in North Carolina, the Wildlife Commission has unveiled an online reporting tool that people can use to report any unusual fish, crayfish, mussel or snail they see in the wild.

North Carolina is home to diverse and unique aquatic wildlife, and introduced aquatic nuisance species, such as Zebra Mussels and Apple Snails, can cause significant ecological and economic harm. In September, Zebra Mussels were found in a private waterbody in Iredell County — the first time they've been detected in the wild in the state; and last month, Apple Snails and their eggs were found in the Lumber River, the first known population in North Carolina. 

What Can You Do To Help Protect Our Waters?

In addition to using the online reporting tool to report any suspected sightings of aquatic nuisance species of concern, people can protect our state waters from unwanted species by:

Cleaning: Equipment of all aquatic plants, animals and mud. 

 

Draining: Water from boats, live wells, bait buckets and all equipment. 

 

Drying: All equipment thoroughly 

Never Moving: Fish, plants or other organisms from one body of water to another. 

Because of the destructive impacts Apple Snails, Zebra Mussels and other invasive species can have on our native species and the environment, it is unlawful to transport, purchase, possess, sell or stock these species in public or private waters in NC. 

 

First Conviction of Death by Impaired Boating in North Carolina

A fatal boating collision investigation led by Wildlife Commission law enforcement officers has resulted in the first conviction of Death by Impaired Boating in North Carolina, also known as Sheyenne's Law. Matthew Ferster, of Brunswick County, pled guilty to three counts of Death by Impaired Boating in a March 2020 boating collision that resulted in the deaths of Jennifer Hayes, 26, Megan Lynn, 21, and Garret Smith, 21, all of Columbus County.

Sheyenne's Law increased the penalty for impaired boating that results in a death or serious injury from a misdemeanor to a felony. It was named in memory of Sheyenne Marshall, a 17-year-old from Concord, who was killed by an impaired boater as she was knee-boarding on Lake Norman in July 2015.

 

Restoring Aquatic Species to North Carolina Waters

Under a landmark conservation agreement signed by the Wildlife Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2022, fisheries biologists with the Wildlife Commission are working to reintroduce 21 aquatic species into NC waters where they were historically found. The 21 priority species include federally and state-listed species or those that are proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act. In October, two species — the Roanoke Logperch and the Magnificent Ramshorn — were the first to be reintroduced under the 50-year Safe Harbor Agreement. The Roanoke Logperch is a tiny fish found only along the Virginia and North Carolina border in the Chowan and Roanoke River basins. It was stocked into the upper Mayo River in Rockingham County to repopulate that portion of the river. The Magnificent Ramshorn (photo above) is a snail found nowhere else in the world except the lower Cape Fear River basin in North Carolina. It is thought to be extirpated from the wild, and only three captive populations are known to exist. It was stocked in a pond on a NCWRC game land in Brunswick County in an effort to reestablish a wild population.

Learn more about Safe Harbor Agreement and the efforts to restore these imperiled aquatic species into North Carolina waters by visiting Restoring Aquatic Species to North Carolina.

 

Fish Attractors Added to Piedmont Lakes to Improve Angler Success

Inland Fisheries Division personnel have been busy this fall adding fish attractors to several popular fishing lakes in the Piedmont. Thanks to a generous donation by the Kevin VanDam FoundationMossBack Fish Habitat and MinnKota, staff with the Inland Fisheries and Land and Water Access divisions added MossBack fish attractors throughout Jordan Lake to concentrate fish and provide anglers with better opportunities to catch fish. Fisheries staff also placed several PVC spool fish attractors and cut-and-cabled shoreline trees in lakes Cammack, Rogers, Farmer, Mackintosh and Randleman, which provide cover for fish where there was little to none before.

 

NEW Two Bald Biologists Podcast Drops

Overlooked Bass Fishing in Coastal North Carolina with Wildlife Commission Biologist TD VanMiddlesworth

Coastal North Carolina is often an overlooked destination for Largemouth Bass anglers. Wildlife Commission Fisheries Biologist TD VanMiddlesworth joins Corey & Ben to talk about bass and bass fishing. They’ll discuss coastal river bass surveys, hurricane fish kill recovery, and fishing the herring run. You may be surprised to learn just how good the fishing is at the coast.    

 

Free Upland Game Hunting Webinar Offered Dec. 7

A free Getting Started Outdoors webinar for upland game (i.e., quail, woodcock, snipe, etc.) will be offered on Dec. 7 from 7-8:30 p.m. The last 30 minutes will be a question-and-answer session.

During the webinar, participants will learn about upland game bird biology, habits and habitat for quail, woodcock, grouse and snipe identification, hunting methods, care and use of bird dogs, firearms and ammunition selection, specialty clothing, and bird cleaning and cooking.

 

Free DIY Fishing - Custom Crappie Jigs Workshop Offered Nov. 21

The Wildlife Commission is offering a free workshop on creating custom crappie jigs on Nov. 21 from 6-8 p.m. at the Marion Fish Hatchery in Marion, NC. This hands-on class is tailored for fishing enthusiasts of all levels. Whether you're a seasoned angler or just starting out, designing your own crappie jigs can be a game-changer on the water.

What you need to know:

  • All necessary materials and equipment are provided.
  • Must be at least 12 years old to register, but those 15 and younger will need an onsite participating parent or guardian.
 

David H. Allen (middle) received the Thomas L. Quay Award on Oct. 26. Flanking him from left to right are Wildlife Commission Chairman, Monty Crump, and Wildlife Commission Director, Cameron Ingram. Right: Allen installs an artificial nesting cavity for red-cockaded woodpeckers on a coastal area game land.

David H. Allen Receives Prestigious Wildlife Diversity Award

David H. Allen, of New Bern, received the 2023 Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award during the Wildlife Commission's board meeting on Oct. 26, in Raleigh. Allen, a retired Wildlife Diversity Program Supervisor for the agency, was selected as the 18th recipient of the award due in part to his unique and innovative conservation ideas to help restore imperiled species, such as the red-cockaded woodpecker, which he continues in retirement, as well as other nongame species, including the Neuse River Waterdog, gopher frog and sea turtles.

The Wildlife Commission presents the Quay Award annually to individuals who make outstanding contributions to wildlife diversity in North Carolina and who are considered leaders in wildlife resource conservation.

 

Hunter Feedback Wanted

Avid Grouse, Quail and Rabbit Hunters

The Wildlife Commission is seeking feedback from avid grouse, quail and rabbit hunters this season. If you would like to participate, please complete the avid hunter form below. Volunteers will receive survey postcards before each season to record their hunting information. Participants will receive an annual summary report at the end of the season. These surveys assist biologists in the long-term monitoring and management of these species in our state.

Avid Hunter Form

Previous harvest reports are available for grouse and quail.

 

Deer Hunters

Deer Hunter Observation Survey

If you still hunt deer, or hunt from a stand, we’d like to know about your wildlife observations. Please complete this online enrollment form and we will mail you a paper survey to fill out and return. Thank you in advance for providing valuable data for state wildlife management survey projects. 

Deer Hunter Observation Survey Enrollment Form

 

Deer Jawbone Submission Survey

Hunters who are interested in participating in the Wildlife Commission's Deer Jawbone Submission program should submit a Deer Jawbone Submission Enrollment Form. Volunteers will receive two postage-paid envelopes. They should submit dried jawbones from does and bucks of all ages, not just large deer.

Deer Jawbone Submission Enrollment Form

 

Thank you for your support!

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Oct. 11, 2023 NC Wildlife Update

What's In Season Now

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:  

 

Wildlife Commission Has New Location and Exhibit at the 2023 N.C. State Fair

 

The Wildlife Commission will be at 2023 N.C. State Fair again this year but with a few changes to our exhibit and location. We will no longer have the pellet gun range because we were unable to obtain the necessary equipment to operate the range. Our new open-air, self-guided exhibit will be located just inside Gate 7 in an area up from the N.C. Forest Service. It will showcase equipment used by our wildlife professionals and will include information on how the equipment is used to help meet North Carolina’s conservation needs. 

Also, be sure to visit our Wildlife Enforcement Officers at Safety City, located by Gate 10, to pick up our perennially popular Wildife in North Carolina button, which features the northern cardinal.

See map of our exhibit locations.

The N.C. State Fair, located at 4285 Trinity Road in Raleigh, will run from Oct. 12-Oct. 22.

 

Subscribe to Wildlife in North Carolina and Enter to Win!

Now is a great time to subscribe to Wildlife in North Carolina magazine! Anyone who subscribes or renews a subscription this month is automatically entered into a drawing for some great outdoor gear, including a rifle scope, portable heater and knife set. Visit ncwildlife.org/WINC to learn more and enter. You can also get ready for the start of deer season with this complimentary article (flipping book) from Wildlife in North Carolina about the Wildlife Commission’s Getting Started Outdoors deer hunting program, a free introduction to hunting for anyone who does not know a hunter. The program is also seeking experienced hunters who are interested in hosting a GSO on their property.

 

 

Two New Invasive Aquatic Species Found in North Carolina Waters

Apple Snails

Apple snails, and their eggs, were found in the Lumber River this month, the first know population in North Carolina.

Apple snail photo

Apple snail egg photo

Why are they bad?

  • Apple snails can be dangerous to humans because they may carry rat lungworm, which can cause a potentially fatal disease if they are eaten raw or undercooked.
  • Egg masses can cause skin and eye rashes.
  • Apple snail grazing habits can damage agricultural crops, such as rice, and plants used by many native aquatic species; and the snails eat amphibian eggs.

Learn more about apple snails

Zebra Mussels

Zebra mussels were found in a waterbody in Iredell County in September — the first time they have been detected in the wild in the state.

Zebra mussel photo

Why are they bad?

Because they are prolific, zebra mussels can quickly take over an environment once they are established and affect the health of other aquatic wildlife by disrupting the food chain and changing the chemistry of the water.

They are capable of clogging both public drinking and wastewater systems, as well as damaging recreational equipment, such as boats, dock lifts and other water-related equipment.

Learn more about zebra mussels.

Take a few minutes to watch this video by Neighborhood TV in Iredell County to hear more about the devastating human and ecological impacts zebra mussels can have and how the Wildlife Commission is working to ensure they don't spread.

 

What Can I Do to Help?

Because of the destructive impacts apple snails and zebra mussels can have on our native species and the environment, it is unlawful to transport, purchase, possess, sell or stock these species in public or private waters in NC. To prevent the spread of invasive species: 

 

Clean: Equipment of all aquatic plants, animals and mud. 

 

Drain: Water from boats, live wells, bait buckets and all equipment. 

 

Dry: All equipment thoroughly 

 

Never Move: Fish, plants or other organisms from one body of water to another. 

Report suspected apple snails or zebra mussels by contacting your district biologist or using our online Aquatic Nuisance Species Reporting Tool.

 

What's New with Big Game Harvest Report Card

This year, the Wildlife Commission offers multiple reporting options for your Big Game Harvest Report Card. One easy way is to go paperless with our new Go Outdoors North Carolina mobile app, available for both iPhone and Android. Avoid carrying a paper license and report your big game harvest while you're in the field — even without internet or cell service!

 

Mandatory Sampling in CWD Surveillance Areas

Two Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance Areas have been established for the 2023-24 hunting season. Each area contains a primary surveillance area (counties where CWD has been detected), and a secondary surveillance area (counties around the primary).

Hunters who harvest deer within a surveillance area during the following weeks must sumbit a sample within 2 weeks of harvest

Surveillance area 1 - Nov. 18-Dec. 3, 2023

Surveilance area 2 - Nov. 11-Nov. 26, 2023

Surveillance Area Map

Voluntary testing across the state is HIGHLY 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!

As of Oct. 11, 2023, 10 deer have tested positive for CWD in North Carolina. The Wildlife Commission appreciates the cooperation of hunters, taxidermists and meat processors, and reminds 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. 

 

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.   

 

Feedback and Observations Wanted!

Attention Avid Grouse, Quail and Rabbit Hunters

The Wildlife Commission is seeking feedback from avid grouse, quail and rabbit hunters this season. If you would like to participate, please complete the avid hunter form below. Volunteers will receive survey postcards before each season to record their hunting information. Participants will receive an annual summary report at the end of the season. These surveys assist biologists in the long-term monitoring and management of these species in our state. 

Read previous harvest survey reports:

Grouse

Quail

Thank you for your support!

 

Attention Deer Hunters: Your Wildlife Observations Wanted!

If you still hunt deer, or hunt from a stand, the Wildlife Commission wants to know about other wild animals you're seeing while deer hunting. Please complete this online enrollment form, and we will mail you a paper survey to fill out and return. Thank you in advance for providing valuable data for state wildlife management survey projects. 

 

Mandatory Bear Tooth Submission

If you harvest a bear, you are required to submit at least one premolar tooth to the Wildlife Commission no later than Jan. 31, 2024. 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 2024. 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. In 2022, it was found in a group of feral domestic rabbits in Greenville County, S.C. 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 a biologist to retrieve. 
 

Invest in the Future of Our Wildlife & Habitat: Purchase a Lifetime License

 

With hunting and fishing in full swing, now is a great time to consider investing in a Lifetime License. The Wildlife Commission offers more than 20 lifetime licenses in five categories (Infant, Youth, Adult, Senior, and Disabled) along with discounted licenses for Volunteer Firefighters and EMS and individuals 50 and older. Your purchase of a lifetime license goes into the N.C. Wildlife Endowment Fund where the accrued interest, not the principal, is spent on programs and projects that benefit fish and wildlife and their habitats. Why wait?

 

Wildlife in North Carolina Magazine Photo Competition Now Open

Entries for the 2023-23 Wildlife in North Carolina Photo Competition are now being accepted through Jan. 31, 2024. 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. 

 

Upland Game Hunting 101 Workshop Scheduled for Oct. 21

A Getting Started Outdoors (GSO) Hunting 101 Workshops for upland game (i.e., quail, woodcock, snipe, etc.) will be offered IN PERSON on Oct. 21 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. in Ellerbe.

Upland Game Hunting 101 - Saturday, Oct. 21, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. in Ellerbe

This workshop is designed for people who:

  • Have NEVER hunted, or have not actively hunted for more than 3 years.
  • LACK social support; you have no readily available hunting family members or friends.
  • Are LAPSED (inactive) hunters, including those who have never harvested big game.

Reservations required and applicants must qualify and complete prerequisites as noted for all workshops.

ATTENDEE PREREQUISITES:

Hunter Safety Certification: Options - free Wildlife Commission Hunter Education Courses or free NRA Course

Valid North Carolina hunting license (purchase or renew online or at a Wildlife Service Agent location). 

 

Scouting Fishing Merit Badge Camp Scheduled for Oct. 28

The Wildlife Commission is offering a Scouting Fishing Merit Badge workshop for active scouting members, ages 11 and older on Oct. 28 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The Camp provides comprehensive instruction that gives the scout the opportunity to complete all the Fishing Merit Badge requirements. On-site camping is available to the scouts. Activities include:

  1. Fishing Hazards and First Aid
  2. Fishing Knots
  3. Fishing Equipment
  4. Fishing Regulations/Outdoor Code
  5. Lunch/Cooking and Cleaning Fish
  6. Fishing in the Center's stocked ponds
 

Other Classes, Workshops & Events

Oct. 12 -22, N.C. State Fair, Wildlife Commission exhibit - Gate 7 near N.C. Forest Service and Safety City, at Gate 10, Raleigh

Oct 1 - 31, N.C. Wildlife .22 Challenges Series, John Lentz Hunter Education Complex, Ellerbe, Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Ongoing classes and podcasts: 

Free Public Hunting, Fishing and Boating 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. 



 
 
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Oct. 4, 2023 Special Duck Hunting Edition

Duck Hunting in North Carolina

Your 2023-24 duck hunting guide

 

Duck Hunting Season Dates

Inland Zone

Thurs., Oct. 19–Sat., Oct. 21

Sat., Nov. 4–Sat., Nov. 25

Tues., Dec. 19–Wed., Jan. 31

 

Coastal Zone

Fri., Oct. 27–Sat., Oct. 28

Sat., Nov. 4–Sat., Nov. 25

Mon., Dec. 18–Wed., 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.

Buy or renew a license online, at a Wildlife Service Agent office or call 833-950-0575 , 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday. Due to higher than normal call volumes, long hold times are to be expected. We encourage you to purchase or renew your license online for faster service. For existing customers, you will need your WRC ID # available to log into your account.

Review the 2023-2024 N.C. Regulations Digest, available in print at your local Wildlife Service Agent, or download a copy (flippingbook/PDF) from our website, or view the regulations online. You can also access the regulations digest on the Wildlife Commission's new mobile app, which is available for iPhone and Android. The guide provides important information about season dates, bag limits, hunting licenses, game lands, regulations and more.

 

HIP Expires June 30, 2024

The expiration of the HIP certification is June 30 after each hunting season. This change, which occurred during the 2022-2023 hunting season, improves federal annual estimates of waterfowl hunting activity in North Carolina. It also improves hunter compliance and reduces confusion, as 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 20 people who died on the water in 2022, 15 were not wearing a life vest. Waterfowl hunters should:

  • 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.
 

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.

 

See a wildlife violation in progress?

Report a violation by calling 800-662-7137.

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. 

 

Go Outdoors North Carolina Online Store is Now Open!

Support North Carolina wildlife through your purchase of Wildlife Commission-exclusive products at our new online Go Outdoors North Carolina store. From hats to mugs to our perennially popular 2024 Wildlife Calendar, we offer a variety of products with new ones being added each week.

 

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Sept. 27, 2023 Special Black Bear Hunting Edition

The 2023-24 Guide to Bear Hunting in North Carolina

 

Prepare for the Hunt

Before you head out to the hunt:

  • All non-license exempt bear hunters must obtain a valid hunting license with big game hunting privileges and a Big Game Harvest Report Card (multiple reporting options available) with the Bear Management E-Stamp before hunting bear. Download the Go Outdoors North Carolina Mobile App (iPhone and Android) to avoid carrying a paper license and report card. The mobile app offers easy to use harvest reporting with or without internet/cell service.
  • Nonresident bear hunters will also need to obtain the Bear Hunting Privilege License in addition to the licenses and privileges listed above.
  • License exempt bear hunters must obtain a valid Big Game Harvest Report Card with the Bear Management E-Stamp before hunting bear.
  • Buy or renew a license online, at a Wildlife Service Agent office or call 833-950-0575, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. 
  • View bear season dates, bag limits, and other rules via the North Carolina Regulations Digest. The full digest is available through the mobile app by pressing the Regulations Tab on the home screen. The digest is also available to download online as a flipbook or PDF, or order a printed copy through the Go Outdoors North Carolina e-Store at no charge.
 

Congrats, You Got One! Now What?

After harvesting a bear, follow these steps:

  1. BEFORE moving the bear from the site of kill:
  • Validate your bear harvest on your Big Game Harvest Report Card.
  • If you printed your card, cut or punch out the corresponding day and month of your harvest.
  • If you are using an electronic version of the card, you can use the Go Outdoors North Carolina app to validate your harvest. The app will also register the harvest and store the authorization number, which will allow you to skip steps 2 and 3 shown below.

2. Report your harvest by calling 1-800-I-GOT-ONE, online at GoOutdoorsNorthCarolina.com or through the Go Outdoors North Carolina app. This is required BEFORE any of the following occur:

  • The animal is skinned or dismembered.
  • The animal is left unattended by the successful hunter.
  • The animal is placed in possession of another person.
  • 12 p.m. (noon) the day following day the harvest. 

3. Record & keep the authorization number given to you after reporting your harvest.

4. Remove at least one premolar tooth and submit it by Jan. 31, 2024.

 

Mandatory Bear Tooth Submission

If you harvest a bear, you must submit at least one premolar tooth to the Wildlife Commission no later than Jan. 31, 2024. If we have your email address, we will send you an 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 2024. Visit the bear cooperator webpage for more information.