Wildlife Commission Email Updates

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


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

2021 N.C. Wildlife Updates

Dec. 14, 2021

Your Participation Counts

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

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


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

Four New Commissioners Take Oath

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


Hunting (or Fishing) for the Perfect Gift?

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


CWD Sampling Update

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


Safe Deer Handling

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


Waterfowl Hunters Need HIP

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

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


White Catfish Restocked

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


New OBX Boat Access Area

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


Becoming BearWise

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


Winter Bird Observations

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


Seeking Nominations for the 2022 Wildlife Diversity Award 

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


NC Zoo Staff Member Joins NWAC

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


Photos Wanted

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


Recent Staff Publications

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

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

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

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

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


Education Center Changes Course

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


Classes, Workshops & Programs

 Ongoing classes:

John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, Fayetteville


What's in Season:

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



Nov. 12, 2021 Holiday Gift Giving Guide

Happy holidays!

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

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


Lifetime Licenses: The Gift That Keeps Giving

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

NEW! Reduced Price Resident Lifetime Licenses for Older Adults

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


Holiday Cheer 12 Months a Year

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


BOW is Back!

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


2022 Wildlife Calendar

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

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


Wildlife in North Carolina Magazine

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


2021 Waterfowl Print & Stamp

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


Last Chance!

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


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


Nov. 3, 2021 Duck Hunting Guide - Special Edition

Duck Hunting in North Carolina

Your 2021-22 Duck Hunting Guide

Duck Hunting Season Dates

Inland Zone

Thu, Oct. 21 – Sat, Oct. 23

Sat, Nov. 6 – Sat, Nov. 27

Sat, Dec. 18 –Mon, Jan. 31

Coastal Zone

Fri, Oct. 29 – Sat, Oct. 30

Sat, Nov. 6 – Mon, Nov. 29

Sat, Dec. 18 –Mon, Jan. 31


Be Prepared!

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

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

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


HIP Expiration Changes

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


Safety on the Water

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

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

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


Oct. 15, 2021 Bear Hunting Guide - Special Edition

Bear Hunting Season Opens Soon!

A guide to bear hunting in North Carolina 2021-22


New this Season! Mandatory Bear Tooth Submission

With support from local and statewide bear hunting organizations, bear tooth submission is now mandatory for all hunter harvested bears. Mandatory tooth submission will help biologists more accurately model bear population trends at both the bear management unit level and the zone level.

Any hunter who harvests a bear this season is required to submit at least one premolar tooth to the Wildlife Commission no later than Jan. 31, 2022. We will send you a complimentary North Carolina Black Bear Cooperator ball cap and an age report for your bear in September 2022. For more information, please visit our website.


View Your Past Big Game Harvest 

You can view a list of your previous big game harvests with bear age results, authorization numbers and more by logging onto our website and entering your last name and WRC customer number. You can also use your Big Game Harvest records to check the status of the bear tooth you submit this season. Status updates are posted approximately 10 days after your bear tooth is received. You can also print a personalized harvest certificate for display.


Live Bear Harvest Reports

Did you know you can monitor the big game harvest during the hunting season on our website? You can even compare the current season with previous seasons for bear, deer and wild turkey, and monitor the harvest by county or management unit! 


Tree Stands and Curious Bears

If you’re in a tree stand, bears may investigate. Don’t confuse curiosity with aggression. A bear’s inquisitiveness, especially through its nose, drives it to inspect tree stands, ATVs, trucks and all manner of equipment. If you are taking a break from bear hunting to hunt deer or other game, BearWise.org offers these tips to avoid encounters with bears while in a tree stand:

  • Yell at the bear and let the bear know you are there before it gets close to your stand.
  • Wave your hands and make a banging noise to let the bear know you are a human to be avoided.
  • Make noise when a female and her cubs are far away so that the cubs climb a tree other than yours.
  • Put the phone down. Do not video the bear as it gets closer to you. This puts you and the bear at risk.

Check out these other bear safety tips while hunting other game species. 


Bear Season Dates

Know before you go! Always check to see if the bear hunting season is open in the area you are hunting, as the bear season dates are often different than other game hunting season dates. The 2021-22 North Carolina Regulations Digest is a great resource for determining hunting seasons in your area. 


Register Your Bear Harvest

All hunters, including those that are license exempt, are required to carry a valid Big Game Harvest Report Card while hunting bear. Before moving the bear from the site of the harvest, a successful hunter must validate the Big Game Harvest Report Card by cutting or punching out the corresponding day and month the harvest occurred. 

It is also required to register your harvested bear (and deer and wild turkey) 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.

Report your harvest by calling 800-I-GOT-ONE (800-446-8663) or clicking Report a Harvest located on the Wildlife Commission’s homepage. 


Black Bear Management

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


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


Oct. 12, 2021

Fall Outdoor Recreation Guide

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


Coming up this month: 


New Ways Hunters Can Help Monitor CWD

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) remains a looming threat to the state’s white-tailed deer population and our deer hunting traditions. Although CWD has not been detected in North Carolina, we’re introducing new monitoring initiatives this season to continue our proactive surveillance approach. Self-serve sample drop-off stations have been placed throughout the state so hunters can voluntarily submit their deer heads for testing. The agency’s CWD webpage features an interactive map of the drop-off station locations and allows hunters to view their deer’s test results


Update: Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA)

Nine North Carolina members of congress co-sponsored the RAWA bill to express their support, including both Senator Tillis and Senator Burr. Their support of the greatest conservation bill in history sends a message to other law makers that this bill is crucial to the future of wildlife. Learn how you can share your support at OurNatureUSA.com and follow #RecoverWildlife on any social media platform. 


Lethal Rabbit Disease Still a Threat

Wildlife biologists are asking the public to continue to help them monitor the potential spread of a deadly rabbit disease not yet observed in North Carolina’s rabbit populations. Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Serotype 2 (RHDV2) is a fatal disease that affects both domestic and wild rabbits. If you find a dead rabbit where cause of death is not apparent, or if you see rabbits with blood around their nose, mouth or rectum, contact the NC Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401. Public input will help biologists determine if the disease has entered our state. 


Firearms Safety Reminders

Our Home from the Hunt campaign reminds hunters to always positively identify their target before pulling the trigger of their firearm and to be aware of their surroundings. The four primary rules of firearms safety are:

  • Always point a firearm in a safe direction. 
  • Treat every firearm as if it were loaded and 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.

If you’d like to practice before the hunt, shooting ranges provide a safe, controlled environment. Staff are available to help choose the best firearm for you and review safety tips.


Be Safe. Be Seen.

Blaze orange is required to be worn by deer hunters any time a firearms season is open. Non-hunters using game lands, such as hikers and birders, are also encouraged to wear blaze orange so they can easily be seen by hunters and other users. Hats and vests are great options for increased visibility.


Piping Plover Breeding Remains Low

Data compiled by agency staff on piping plover this past breeding season revealed that breeding success remains below management goals. Statewide there were 39 pairs, an increase from the previous three years, but only 17 chicks fledged. Wildlife biologists and partner agencies are working to recover the species by protecting nesting habitat, monitoring potential predators and minimizing disturbance to nesting birds. You can help too by sharing the shore. 


Wildlife Photo Competition

Entries are now being accepted for amateur and professional photos of North Carolina wildlife. Our popular contest offers a range of categories and a $200 grand prize. The winning photo will also be published on the cover of the July/August 2022 issue of Wildlife in North Carolina. You must have a subscription to the magazine or be younger than 18 to participate. Contest rules and past winning photos are available online.


Trapping License Sales up 10% Last Season

During the 2020-21 trapping season, trapping license sales were up 10%, and 26% of trapping licenses issued were to new trappers. This increase was the largest increase since the 2013-14 season when pelt prices were high. Pelt prices have remained stable, leading to the assumption that license sales increased due to the COVID-effect and more people choosing to recreate outdoors. 


Regulation Updates

Bear Hunters: With support from local and statewide bear hunting organizations, bear tooth submission is now mandatory for all hunter harvested bears. Any hunter who harvests a bear is required to submit at least one premolar tooth to the Commission no later than January 31st, 2022. For more information, including an instructional video, please visit our Black Bear Cooperator webpage.

Fox Season: As of Oct. 4, no new counties opened up to fox trapping during the current legislative session. Legal descriptions of applicable regulations and session laws that apply to each county, as well as the annual fox season publication can be found on our website.

Controlled Rabbit Hunting Preserves: The Wildlife Commission has initiated rulemaking for 15A NCAC 10H.1601 Controlled Rabbit Hunting Preserves. Public comments will be accepted by email, online, or by mail through Nov. 30. An online public hearing will be held on Oct. 26, 6 p.m. Registration is required.



From left to right: Connor Ball, Reece Hagwood, Marshall Wells, Mattie Wells, Caleb Hemric

Shout Out to Elkin Senior Elks!

Congratulations to the students at Elkin High School who competed this summer at the 2021 Central Region Youth Hunter Education Challenge in Lonoke, Arkansas. They represented North Carolina well, taking 1st in Archery Team and earning high scores in multiple other team categories. Individual winners were Marshall Wells, who took 1st in Rifle, and Connor Ball, who took 1st in Safety Trail.


Increased Boy Scout Offerings

The John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center is elevating its commitment to increased fishing activity in scouting by offering Fishing Merit Badge Workshops and A Bear Goes Fishing Adventures. Several of the center’s staff and volunteers are Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Certified Angling Instructors and Merit Badge Counselors for fishing and fly fishing. 


Classes, Workshops & Programs:

Oct. 14 - 24, N.C. State Fair, Wildlife Law Enforcement Booth in Safety City. Officers will be distributing the 2020 and 2021 State Fair buttons. The agency will also have an open air exhibit across from the Village of Yesteryear, however no staff will be present.

Pisgah is Back! Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education has resumed classes at off-site locations while the center remains under construction.

Pre-recorded Understanding our Wild Life Webinar Series, posted Oct. 1: A Balance of Craft and Best Available Science: Important Considerations for Survey Research



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

Have Chipmunks Gone Coastal? If you observe a chipmunk or its burrow in New Hanover, Brunswick, Onslow, Duplin, Sampson, Bladen, Cumberland, Moore, Montgomery, Anson, Richmond and Robeson counties, please take a picture (required), note the location, date and time, and contact the NC Wildlife Helpline, 866-318-2401. A confirmed chipmunk sighting last spring outside of its known range continues to peak biologists’ curiosity.


Species Spotlight:: Eastern Hellbender

The Eastern hellbender is the largest aquatic salamander in North America, averaging 16 to 17 inches long. It has a flat, broad head and flattened body, is brown and sometimes mottled with dark splotches, and has wrinkly skin on its sides which help it breathe. Because hellbenders breathe through their skin, they are very sensitive to water pollution and, thus, are considered a “bio-indicator” of stream health. Hellbenders are typically only found in fast moving, clean mountain streams; however, their populations have decreased mainly due to declining water quality, sedimentation, habitat degradation and ill treatment from anglers who mistakenly think they decrease trout populations. The latter is not true; however, hellbenders may go after fish on a line or stringer when scavenging for an easy meal.

Their main source of prey is crayfish, but they will also eat minnows, snails, tadpoles, worms, discarded bait or other injured or dead animals. Game fish, like trout and bass, will eat young or larval hellbenders. The hellbender is not poisonous, venomous, toxic or harmful to humans, although they may try to bite as a defensive reaction if handled.

This species is of special concern in North Carolina. Seeing a hellbender is the wild is special, but not unheard of. If you see one, let us know! As a reminder, it is illegal to take, possess, transport or sell hellbenders, or attempt to do so.


Sept. 15, 2021

Archery Deer Season is Here

Archery hunting for deer opened statewide on Saturday, Sept. 11. In addition, Youth Deer Hunting Day is Saturday, Sept. 25. Be prepared for the hunt!


Tree Stand Safety is Imperative

Last fall, our agency received reports of 10 tree stand incidents — one of which was fatal. In all instances, the individuals were not wearing a safety harness. Unfortunately, this doesn’t account for the tree stand incidents that were never reported. If you hunt from a tree stand, please follow these simple safety tips.


Field Observations Requested from Deer Hunters

If you hunt deer still or from a stand, we’d like to know about your wildlife observations. The information you log provides trend data beneficial for state wildlife management survey projects. Participants are encouraged to submit their sightings of game and furbearer species online via the link below. Paper surveys are also available by contacting Ryan Myers.


2022 Striped Bass Harvest on the Roanoke

On Aug. 26, Commissioners voted to notice a temporary rule change for the 2022 striped bass harvest season in the Roanoke River Management Area. The change to rule 15A NCAC 10C .0314 - Striped Bass was recommended by agency staff to maintain harvest within the quota set for 2022. 

Public comments will be accepted through Sept. 24. Comments can be:


Additional Rule Updates

Rulemaking was initiated by the Wildlife Commission for technical changes to rules regarding Hunting and Trapping and Inland Fishing. The comment period is open now through Nov. 1. Online public hearings will be held on Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. (Hunting and Trapping) and Sept. 28 at 2 p.m. (Inland Fishing). Pre-registration is required.  


Recovering from Tropical Depression Fred

Two Wildlife Commission facilities were severely impacted by the flash flooding caused by Tropical Depression Fred in western North Carolina in August. The Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education is currently closed to the public, and all classes are suspended until further notice. The Bobby N. Setzer Fish Hatchery remains operational but closed to the public. Thankfully all staff, volunteers and visitors were safe during the storm. Hopes are they will both reopen to the public soon. 


Delayed Harvest Trout Waters Open Oct. 1

Although the Bobby N. Setzer State Fish Hatchery remains operational after severe flooding from Tropical Depression Fred, a substantial number of trout were lost. The agency is mitigating those losses by obtaining replacement trout from various sources and expects to stock all Delayed Harvest locations as scheduled beginning Oct. 1. Information about other flood-related trout stocking changes can be found on our website. 


Land Purchase Provides Permanent Protection

Thanks in part to several conservation partners and donors, the Wildlife Commission purchased 2,424 acres of land in the Piedmont along the eastern shore of Tuckertown Reservoir in Davidson and Montgomery counties. The lands will now be called the Yadkin River Game Land (formerly Alcoa Game Land) to reflect the vicinity of the game land to the Yadkin River and will continue to provide opportunities for hunting, fishing and wildlife-associated recreation.

“Conserving these lands for public access, water quality and wildlife habitat perfectly aligns with our agency’s mission to protect our state’s natural resources.” – Cameron Ingram, Executive Director, Wildlife Commission


Successful Nesting of Peregrine Falcons 

Wildlife Commission biologists, in conjunction with Grandfather Mountain Park officials, have confirmed the successful nesting of two peregrine falconsthe first successful attempt on the mountain since 2008. The state averages only 15 – 20 breeding pairs of peregrine falcons a year, which means this is big news.


Hunters Can Contribute to Bird Conservation

Throughout history hunters have learned to quickly identify several species of birds — wild turkey, ducks, owls, hawks and more — and have contributed to bird conservation through habitat and species protection. Wildlife biologists are asking hunters to put their knowledge to work by participating in the citizen science project, NC Bird Atlas (NCBA). Hunters can get involved by logging their field observations in the eBird app on their phones. More information specifically for hunters is available at the NCBA hunter webpage


Wildlife Calendars on Sale

The 2022 Wildlife Calendar is now available, featuring stunning wildlife art and important dates related to wildlife, hunting and fishing. At just $9 a calendar, it makes a great gift for any outdoor recreational enthusiast!


Classes, Workshops and Programs

Sept. 16, Practical Deer Processing: From Field to Freezer webinar

John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center

Pre-recorded Understanding our Wild Life Webinar Series, posted Sept. 3: Paradigm Shift: Striped Bass Management in the Tar, Neuse and Cape Fear Rivers

The following scheduling changes were announced due to public safety concerns due to the COVID-19 delta variant:

CANCELLED: Sept. 25, National Hunting and Fishing Day events, John F. Lentz Hunter Education Complex and Shooting Range

LIMITED STAFF: Oct. 14 - 24, N.C. State Fair, Wildlife Law Enforcement Recruitment Booth in Safety City. Officers will be distributing the 2020 and 2021 State Fair buttons. The Wildlife Commission will also have an agency exhibit, however no staff will be present.


Species Spotlight:: White-tailed Deer and CWD

We know a lot about the white-tailed deer, but there’s more we have to discover as it relates to the fatal Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). CWD is the most serious wildlife disease affecting our country’s cervid populations (deer, elk, moose and reindeer/caribou). CWD has not been detected in North Carolina, but this spring a case was found just over 30 miles north of the border in Virginia.

Wildlife Commission biologists have been monitoring for CWD since 1999 through coordinated statewide surveillance. Samples from over 15,000 deer have been tested, and increased testing opportunities will be available this hunting season. Hunters should expect: 

  • Additional voluntary check stations in targeted regional zones. 
  • Locations where hunters can voluntarily drop off deer heads for testing. 
  • Increased efforts to test deer from roadkill, taxidermists and meat processers. 
  • Continued enforcement of importation laws. 

If CWD is detected in North Carolina, the agency stands ready to activate its CWD Response Plan immediately. 

Want to read more about CWD?

“On Alert: North Carolina Continues to Monitor the Threat of Chronic Wasting Disease” is the free article featured in the Sept/Oct edition Wildlife in North Carolina. Contributor Sydney Brown explains what chronic waiting disease is and the threat it presents to North Carolina’s deer herd. 


Aug. 30, 2021 The Hunt is Here! Special Edition

The Hunt is Here!

A guide to hunting in North Carolina this fall

There's nothing like opening day of your favorite hunting season. Make sure you're prepared.

  • Buy or renew a license online, at a wildlife service agent office or call 888-248-6834, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Friday
  • Apply for your HIP Certification if hunting migratory game birds. It’s required and free! It can be acquired by the same methods as licensing.
  • Pick up a copy of the 2021-2022 N.C. Regulations Digest in print at your local wildlife service agent, or download a copy online. The guide provides important information on season dates, bag limits, hunting licenses, Game Lands, regulations and much more.
  • Report your deer harvest by validating your Big Game Harvest Report Card

September Season Openers

Canada Goose (September season) - Wednesday, Sept. 1 

Doves (Mourning & White-winged) and various other webless migratory game birds - Saturday, Sept. 4

(See three-season dove schedule online)

White-tailed Deer - Saturday, Sept. 11 (Archery), Saturday, Sept. 25 (Youth Day)

(See Blackpowder, Gun and Urban Archery dates online for your region)  


Where to Hunt

Check out the Wildlife Commission’s interactive Game Land Maps with Dove Fields. Search by county, address, or filter by species or facilities.

Printable Game Land Maps:

Mountain Region

Piedmont Region

Coastal Region 


Dove Season Reminders

  • Daily bag limit is 15 mourning or white-winged doves, either as single species or combined.
  • Shooting hours are from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset.  
  • It is illegal take migratory game birds with the use or aid of salt, grain, fruit or any other bait.  
  • An area is considered baited for 10 days following the removal of all salt, grain or other feed. 
  • Hunting of migratory game birds by any method is not allowed on Sundays.  

Free Deer Hunting and Processing Webinars

Introduction to Deer Hunting

Tuesday, Sept. 14, 7 – 8 p.m.


Practical Deer Processing: From Field to Freezer

Thursday, Sept. 16, 7 – 8 p.m.



What's New for the 2021-2022 Season?

The statutory limitations for Sunday hunting, prohibiting hunting with a firearm between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., using firearms to hunt deer with the use of dogs, and hunting with a firearm within 500 yards of a place of worship or any accessory structure thereof will also apply on game lands. Additionally, hunting migratory game birds on Sunday is prohibited statewide. 



Home from the Hunt Reminders


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


  • Always point the crossbow and loaded arrow in a safe direction.
  • Only load an arrow when it’s safe to shoot.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  • Be sure of your target and what is in front of it, immediately behind it, and beyond it.
  • Check the travel path of the crossbow limbs to make sure they will not strike tree limbs, blind windows, or other objects when you shoot.
  • Avoid dry-firing a crossbow (pulling the trigger without a loaded arrow). It may cause serious damage to the crossbow and can injure the shooter. 


Tree Stand Safety Brings You Home from the Hunt


Increased Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Monitoring

We’ve been monitoring for CWD since 1999 through coordinated statewide surveillance. Samples from over 15,000 deer have been tested to date, and fortunately none were infected with CWD.

However, with new CWD cases reported in surrounding states, the agency is increasing surveillance efforts this season and is urging hunters to cooperate and help Keep CWD out of NC.

What to expect:

  • Additional voluntary check stations in targeted regional zones. 
  • Locations where hunters can voluntarily drop off deer heads for testing.  
  • Increased efforts to test deer from roadkill, taxidermists and meat processers. 
  • Continued enforcement of importation laws. 

Our agency is also in frequent communication with the N.C. Department of Agriculture (NCDA) regarding the management of farmed cervids. 

 Should there be a CWD case in North Carolina,


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

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



Aug. 6, 2021

Dove Season Opens Saturday, Sept. 4 

Hunters can purchase or renew their license and obtain their Federal Harvest Informational Program (HIP) Certification online for immediate use in the field. Licenses can also be purchased by visiting a local wildlife service agent or by calling 1-888-248-6834, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday. 


2021-22 Dove Season Reminders

The hunting season for mourning and white-winged doves will be separated into three segments: Sept. 4 through Oct. 2, Nov. 6 through Nov. 27 and Dec. 9 through Jan. 31. Here are a few things to remember as you head out into the field:

  • Daily bag limit is 15 mourning or white-winged doves, either singly or in the aggregate.
  • Shooting hours are from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset.
  • It is illegal take migratory game birds with the use or aid of salt, grain, fruit or any other bait.
  • An area is considered baited for 10 days following the removal of all salt, grain or other feed. 
  • Hunting of migratory game birds by any method is not allowed on Sundays.  

Safety During the Hunt

The Wildlife Commission offers a variety of hunter safety courses to ensure everyone comes home from the hunt. Safety tips to keep top of mind this dove season include:

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

New Regulations Digest Now Available 

On Aug. 1, new rules and regulations related to hunting, fishing, trapping and nongame species were published in the 2021-22 North Carolina Regulations Digest. The digest is now available online and to download and is a fantastic resource for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy wildlife-associated recreational activities. 

Opening day for upcoming seasons:


From left to right: David Hoyle, former Commission chair; Monty Crump; Thomas Fonville; Cameron Ingram, executive director

Welcoming New Leadership 

Wildlife Commissioners recently voted a new chairman and vice chairman to the board. Monty R. Crump and Thomas L. Fonville will serve two years in their new roles respectively. Both look forward to working with their fellow commissioners and agency staff to continue to be good stewards of the state’s wildlife resources. 


Labor Day Weekend on the Water

The last official weekend of summer means more boats on the water. Wildlife law enforcement officers will begin an increased number of safety checks at recreational areas across the state starting Sept. 3 as part of its On the Road, On the Water campaign over Labor Day weekend. Please designate a sober boat operator and make sure everyone has a life jacket for an enjoyable and safe experience for all. 


New Bill to Support RAWA

Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) Update: Senate Bill S.2372 was introduced in the Senate on July 15 as a complementary bill to House Bill H.2773 that was introduced on Earth Day, April 22. A press release was issued from the US Senate outlining how transformative passing RAWA would be for wildlife resources across our state and country. Last week our Commissioners approved a resolution that is being mailed to NC’s Congressional delegation this week urging them to support this legislation. Learn how you can offer your support at OurNatureUSA.com and follow #RecoverWildlife on any social media platform.


David Hoyle (left) former Commission chair, Ned Jones of Trout Unlimited and Cameron Ingram (far right), Commission executive director, present 6-year-old Skyler Cadwallader, of Jacksonville, with her lifetime fishing license, which was generously donated by Trout Unlimited.

Young Anglers Win Lifetime Licenses

In June, the Wildlife Commission celebrated National Fishing and Boating Week with 25 fishing events across the state. Children could fish and register to win prizes just for attending. The grand prize was a Lifetime Sportsman License generously donated by Neuse Sport Shop in Kinston and first place prize was Lifetime Comprehensive Inland Fishing License donated by North Carolina Council of Trout Unlimited.


Two Catfish Records Broken in One Week

Congratulations to Rocky Baker of Four Oaks (far left) who caught a record-breaking 127-pound, 1-ounce blue catfish at on Roanoke River on July 10. The bait used was gizzard shad. A week later, on July 17, Taner Rudolph of Hubert (far right) reeled in a state record channel catfish on the Neuse River weighing 26 pounds and caught with cut bait. Way to hook ‘em!


Catfish Craving

Whether you caught the fish or bought the fish, knowing how to cook it is a must. Check out this delectable recipe for Catfish and Chips featured in the latest issue of Wildlife in North Carolina magazine. 


Boy Scout Merit Badge Opportunity

The Pechmann Fishing Education Center in Fayetteville is offering fishing merit badge clinic for scouts on Aug. 28. The workshop is led by Boy Scout of America Certified Angling Instructors and volunteers who guide the scouts through all the requirements needed to earn their Fishing Merit Badge. The clinic is free, but limited to 50 scouts. Scout leaders must contact the center director by email or by phone, 910-868-5003, to register their troops.


Other Upcoming Classes, Workshops & Programs:

Sept. 11, Introduction to Falconry Workshop, Raleigh

Sept. 14, Introduction to Deer Hunting webinar

Sept. 16, Practical Deer Processing: From Field to Freezer webinar

Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, Pisgah Forest 

Save the date!

National Hunting and Fishing Day

September 25, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

John F. Lentz Hunter Education Complex and Shooting Range, Ellerbe


Upland Gazette

The fall edition of the Upland Gazette features articles about turkey research, the pros and cons of private land management, a Sampson County landowner balancing the economics of growing cattle with managing quality wildlife habitat, conservation and management efforts of milkweed and more related to small game, songbird and other game and non-game species and their habitats. 


Species Spotlight // American Beaver

The beaver is the largest North American rodent and are found statewide. They provide many positive benefits to people; their ponds help control erosion and sedimentation, recharge groundwater resources and provides valuable habitat for waterfowl, herons and other wetland wildlife.

However, beavers’ dams can also cause flooding in agricultural fields and residential areas. They can also destroy timber by chewing on or felling trees.

The best way to prevent conflicts with beavers is to manage their population by letting licensed trappers remove them during the regulated trapping season (Nov. 1 through March 31 statewide), when they can be used as a renewable natural resource for pelt, meat and castor oil.

To learn more about how the commission manages beavers, check out our video about the Beaver Management Assistance Program (BMAP):


July 9, 2021

Applications Now Available for Permit Hunting Opportunities 

Applications for permitted hunting opportunities are now available. These hunts provide unique opportunities for special areas or species. Applications are available online, in-person at a Wildlife Service Agent or by calling 888-248-6834, Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Application deadlines vary starting in August.


Turkey Harvest Just Short of Record 

Hunters recorded the second highest wild turkey harvest on record in 2021 with 21,974 birds. The total falls just short of the all-time record set last year of 23,341 birds. More information about this year’s turkey harvest organized by county, game land, hunting implement and youth hunt is now available on our website.


Talk Turkey

Wildlife biologists are seeking the public’s assistance in reporting observations of wild turkey now through Aug. 31. The information you submit will provide insight into turkey population trends to help improve species management decisions, as noted in the 2020 Observation Survey Report.


Birding at South Mountains Game Land

South Mountains Game Land is an excellent birding destination that flies under the radar of most bird enthusiasts. Located in the western Piedmont, this 21,647-acre game land’s mountain topography supports a mix of bird species. Special finds include Kentucky warbler, Swainson's warbler and red-headed woodpecker.

Wildlife Diversity biologists compiled a 4-season bird checklist that includes 134 species of birds documented by agency biologists, including over a dozen Species of Greatest Conservation Need (see North Carolina Wildlife Action Plan). Birders can find early fall migrants on the game land in late August and early September, and breeding birds can be seen mid-May - June. So grab your blaze orange, clean your binoculars and start your checklist – and save the date; staff will host a bird walk on Aug. 28. Details will be released next month. 

Note: South Mountains Game Lands is a popular hunting destination for deer, turkey and small game.

Be aware of hunting season dates and always wear blaze orange.


Waterfowl Stamp and Print Now on Sale 

The blue-winged teal, submitted by Scot Storm of Freeport, Minn., is the featured duck on this year’s waterfowl stamp and print, available now at the N.C. Wild Store. Proceeds support waterfowl conservation in our state, including acquiring and improving habitat. The 2020 stamp and print of the tundra swan will remain available through December while supplies lasts. 


Supporting RAWA Supports Wildlife

Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) is a bipartisan bill that, if passed, would dedicate over $20 million annually to conserve and restore nearly 500 nongame fish and wildlife species of greatest conservation need in N.C. Without this secured funding, many of these species will not get the conservation work needed to keep them off the federal list. Help us to keep common species common. Learn how you can share your support at OurNatureUSA.com and follow #RecoverWildlife on any social media platform.


Understanding our Wild Life

Every month, Wildlife Commission staff share their expertise, insight and experiences from the field through a webinar series called Science Communication: Understanding our Wild Life. The primary purpose of the series is to understand how science drives the decisions agency staff make to conserve the state’s natural resources and improve the state’s fishing, hunting and wildlife-watching opportunities.

  • How has creating a genetic baseline for brook trout helped with overall species conservation?
  • How has Alabama Bass changed the landscape of black bass fisheries in N.C.?
  • How do deer hunters help biologists monitor deer populations in N.C.?

This informative series was developed internally for staff to learn about their colleagues’ work but is also a fantastic resource for the public. View the webinar series on YouTube anytime. 


Rat Pack

National Geographic recently posted a story about the mysterious decline of Allegheny woodrats, a species our wildlife biologists have been researching. In 2020, Wildlife Management biologists launched a survey of woodrat colony sites and joined a small working group of regional wildlife agencies to learn more about these curious critters. The hope is that a multifaceted approach will help increase their numbers in the wild.


Opportunity & Access

Foothills Public Shooting Complex Now the Largest in the Carolinas – A skeet range, two combination skeet and trap ranges, and a 5-stand range opened to the public on June 23 as part of a $1.3 million shooting complex expansion in Cleveland County. Learn more.

Snow Hill Boat Access Area – Construction of a concreate boat ramp, 30-foot fishing pier, floating boat dock, handicap accessibility and a resurfaced gravel and concrete driveway is now complete in Snow Hill. See all N.C. Boat Access Areas.

Haven’s Garden and Mason’s Landing Kayak Launches – New ADA-compliant kayak launches were recently installed in Washington. A third launch will be constructed this fall in Greenville to improve accessibility and safety for paddlers. Read more.


Critter Corner

Foxes – Decks, raised porches and crawlspaces offer protection from the elements and make the perfect location for a fox pair to raise their young. If you’ve found a fox den on your property and need advice, Extension Biologist Falyn Owens offers tips and options.

Fawns - Each year, well-intentioned people “rescue” healthy fawns they mistake as orphaned or abandoned, though this is usually not the case. Biologists urge the public to leave fawns where they were found and contact a permitted fawn rehabilitator. Leaving a fawn alone significantly increases its chances of survival. Read more.

Bears – Black bears in N.C. live mainly in the Mountains and Coastal Plain, but do pass through the Piedmont, usually in May - July. This is when young, “transient” bears are looking for a new home after leaving their mothers’ care and striking out on their own. Remember to follow these six BearWise Basics to prevent conflicts between people and bears.


Buy Online Before Casting a Line

Our state offers some of the nation’s best inland and coastal fishing with abundant species and game fish. Anglers are encouraged to save time by purchasing fishing licenses online. A fishing license is required for anyone 16 years and older to fish recreationally in public waters. Learn more about fishing at our website.  


Fly Fishing Expo Catches On

The Wildlife Commission’s Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education started hosting a monthly drop-in Fly Fishing Expo this spring, and it’s popularity among visitors has organizers excited about continuing the expo through the fall. Folks can practice holding a fly rod, receive casting instruction and learn to tie a fly. The next event is July 21, and mores dates will be posted online as they confirmed. 


Other Upcoming Classes, Workshops & Programs:

John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, Fayetteville   


Fish Cleaning Made Simple

Wildlife Commission Fisheries Biologist Ben Ricks offers simple step by step instructions in the Wildlife in North Carolina July/August issue about cleaning and preparing fish so you can enjoy the rewards of your efforts. Read the article.


Species Spotlight // American Alligator

The American alligator makes its home along the N.C. coast and southeastern border in freshwater swamps, marshes, ponds, lakes and the backwaters of large rivers. It has a broad snout, short neck and legs, and only its upper teeth show when its mouth is closed. Male gators in N.C. can reach 13 feet and 500 pounds. Females grow less than 9 feet and can weigh up to 200 pounds. Adults range in color from black or dark gray to olive. Juveniles are born with bright yellowish-white bands that encircle their bodies and gradually fade over time.

Mating occurs May – June. The average clutch size is 30 – 45 eggs. After laying eggs in a mound-like nest of natural debris, the female is the only reptile in N.C. to protect her young after hatching – for up to two years! Gators can live up to 40 years, eating fish, snakes, frogs, turtles, birds and small mammals. However, humans have begun feeding alligators, both intentionally and unintentionally. This has created dangerous scenarios as alligators become more comfortable around people. Seeing a gator in the wild is exciting, but please remain a safe distance away and do not feed them or other wildlife that live in their habitat. For more information, read the American Alligator Wildlife Profile.


June 25, 2021

Happy 4th of July from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission!

We hope you’ll enjoy the many outdoor wildlife-associated recreational activities our state has to offer this coming holiday weekend.


Free Fishing Day is July 4

Anyone in North Carolina may fish for free on July 4, 12 a.m. until 11:59 p.m., regardless of age – no license required! This applies to residents and out-of-state visitors alike.

All anglers, whether fishing for free on the 4th or otherwise, must follow North Carolina fishing regulations, including length and daily possession limits, and bait and tackle restrictions. So, grab a friend or a family member, get out on the water and make some memories!

Helpful links to get you started:

Interactive fishing maps

Interactive boating maps

Stocking information

Tackle Loaner Program

Don’t waste time, buy online!

Purchasing a fishing license is quick and easy.

Contact a Wildlife Commission customer service agent at 888-248-6834,

8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

      Visit a local Wildlife Service Agent


Operation Dry Water

The fourth of July weekend is traditionally the busiest weekend on the water and can be the most dangerous. July 2 – 4, wildlife officials will be promoting sobriety while boating through a nationwide campaign called Operation Dry Water. Last year, the agency issued 371 citations and removed 59 people from the water for boating under the influence over the holiday weekend. Don’t be alarmed if you notice an increased presence of wildlife law enforcement officers patrolling the waters and performing sobriety and safety checks, but do be prepared! Our website is full of resources to ensure you have an enjoyable weekend on the water.


Wear Your Life Jacket

The seconds it takes to put on a life jacket may be the difference between life and death. And it's the law. Anyone younger than 13 MUST wear an appropriate life jacket when on a recreational vessel. Read more


Wake Responsibly

Vessel registrations in North Carolina have increased significantly over the past year. With more boaters on the water this summer, safety is imperative. When wakeboarding, please follow these recommendations to “wake responsibly” and help create an environment everyone on the water can enjoy:

  • Stay at least 200 feet away from the shoreline, docks or other structures.
  • Keep music at reasonable levels. Sound travels well over water. If it is loud enough to hear at 80 feet back, it is likely loud enough for homeowners and others to hear as well.
  • Minimize repetitive passes on any one portion of the shoreline. Once you've run the same line for a while, move on to another area.

June 4, 2021

Delayed Harvest Trout Waters Open June 5

The Wildlife Commission will open 34 trout streams and two lakes classified as Delayed Harvest to trout harvest June 5 - Sept. 30.  From 6 a.m. until 11:59 a.m. on opening day, Delayed Harvest waters are open only to anglers 17 years old and younger. At noon, waters open to all anglers. During this time, anglers can keep up to seven trout per day — with no gear or bait restrictions and no minimum size limits. A list of Delayed Harvest trout waters, regulation information and trout maps can be found at ncwildlife.org/trout


Wake Responsibly

Vessel registrations in North Carolina have increased 10 percent since January. With more boaters on the water this spring, summer and fall, safety is imperative. When wakeboarding, please follow these recommendations to “wake responsibly” and help create an environment everyone on the water can enjoy:

  • Stay at least 200 feet away from the shoreline, docks or other structures.
  • Keep music at reasonable levels. Sound travels well over water. If it is loud enough to hear at 80 feet back, it is likely loud enough for homeowners and others to hear as well.
  • Minimize repetitive passes on any one portion of the shoreline. Once you've run the same line for a while, move on to another area.

A Record Year for Bear Harvest

The reported bear harvest for the 2020-21 bear hunting season increased by 8 percent statewide and is the highest harvest on record, totaling 3,748 bears. Over half of the bears harvested were in the Coastal Bear Management Unit, and the number of successful still hunters continues to increase. Browse season totals and harvest summaries here. A full 2020-21 season report, including results of harvested bear ages and weights, will be published in the fall in the bear annual report.


Young Wildlife Encounters

It’s common this time of year to see baby rabbits nesting in yards, fledglings growing into their wings, and fawns “hiding” in the foliage. Many North Carolinians wonder how to help the baby wildlife they’ve found. In most instances, the answer is “enjoy the view and then walk away.” Extension Biologist, Falyn Owens, explains why.


Have You Seen Me?

Barn Owl Nests: If you see an active nest or other evidence of a barn owl on your property, biologists would like to install nest boxes to monitor owl nest success and other life habits. Contact Allison Medford,

910-975-9393. Learn what to look for here


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


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


Chipmunks: A recent photograph from a Wilmington resident has biologists curious about chipmunks’ range, which has traditionally been north and west of Wake County. If you observe a chipmunk or its burrow in New Hanover, Brunswick, Onslow, Duplin, Sampson, Bladen, Cumberland, Moore, Montgomery, Anson, Richmond or Robeson counties, take a picture (required), note the location, date and time the chipmunk was seen and contact the NC Wildlife Helpline, 866-318-2401.


In Memoriam: A North Carolina Wildlife Conservation Legend 

In May, former N.C. Wildlife Commissioner Eddie Bridges passed away. Bridges served two six-year terms starting in 1977 and was the force behind creating the agency’s Lifetime License program and subsequently, the N.C. Wildlife Endowment Fund. He also played a role in proposing the North Carolina Waterfowl Stamp and Tax Check-off program, both which raise money for wildlife conservation. He will be remembered as a stellar philanthropist and passionate conservationist with a legacy that will last many lifetimes.


Buy a License, Support Conservation

It’s always a good time to purchase or renew your hunting and fishing license. This video, “Conservation, Let’s Target Outdoors,” highlights how your support contributes to the conservation and management of North Carolina’s wildlife resources through the Wildlife Restoration Program.


Lost Hunter Grateful for Nighttime Rescue

Even the most experienced hunters can get turned around in the woods. On Dec. 17, 2020, Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer Justin St. Onge participated in the search and rescue of a lost hunter in the Uwharrie National Forest in Montgomery County. Watch how the rescue unfolded and the lessons learned.


Rhodes Pond Dam Groundbreaking

On May 21, Wildlife Commission staff and commissioners, local officials, state dignitaries and Cumberland County residents gathered in Dunn to celebrate the groundbreaking of the long-awaited Rhodes Pond Dam Spillway and Impoundment Restoration Project. The project has experienced years of delays due to weather events and funding challenges but now is on track to be completed in late 2022.


Volunteers Needed at Lake Gaston

Volunteers are needed June 15 - 17 for the annual habitat enhancement project supported by the Wildlife Commission, Lake Gaston Association, NC State University, Lake Gaston Weed Control Council and the Virginia DWR. Volunteer help is critical to creating a better habitat for animals, fishing, swimming, boating and all recreational activities on the water. Contact Jeff Zimmer to get involved.


Wildlife in North Carolina

While populations of North Carolina's six venomous snakes have largely declined due to habitat loss and persecution, the copperhead has persisted and even thrived. How is that so? Read our free article, "The Copperhead's Road," in the latest issue of Wildlife in North Carolina magazine to find out more. 


Upcoming Classes, Workshops & Programs:

June 5 - 13, National Fishing and Boating Week, Youth Fishing Events, statewide

June 10, ForestHer NC, Protecting Your Woods Webinar Series #3: Forest certification & cost-share programs

Ongoing classes: 

John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, Fayetteville  

Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, Pisgah Forest 


Species Spotlight // Least Tern 

The least tern, the smallest American tern averaging 8 to 9 inches, is found along our coastline and inland waterways. It prefers to nest in colonies or occasionally as an individual pair on sandy or shelly beaches, and even gravel rooftops. Its diet consists of small fish, crustaceans and insects. The least tern will hover over the water searching for prey and dive to catch fish or catch insects while flying.

Least terns have breeding and nonbreeding plumage. During the breeding season, least terns have a black cap that ends with a white forehead and a black stripe through the eye ending at the beak. Beaks are yellow with a black tip. Outside the breeding season, they have a black eye stripe that goes toward the back of the head, the top of their head is white, and they have black bills.

Least terns are a species of special concern in North Carolina, primarily because they require quiet beaches, undisturbed by tourists, and they are vulnerable to predators such as foxes, raccoons, coyotes, free-roaming domestic cats, and rambunctious, well-intentioned dogs. It’s important that we share the shore with least terns and other beach-nesting seabirds and shorebirds. For more information, read the Least Tern Wildlife Profile.


May 7, 2021

Deer Harvest Increased in 2020-21 Season

Hunters across the state reported harvesting 169,973 deer during the 2020-21 hunting season — a 9.1 percent increase compared to the average harvest the last three seasons. Earlier this year, Wildlife Commission Biologist Jon Shaw conducted a webinar Managing NC’s Deer Herd: A Look at Databases & Key Metrics explaining in detail how the Commission uses the reported harvest and other data to monitor the herd. The reported harvest is likely influenced by both increased deer numbers and hunter effort. “The pandemic resulted in more time at home and opportunity to engage in outdoor activities for lots of people. The increase in new hunters and overall hunter participation is an encouraging trend that we hope will continue in the future,” Shaw said.


Good news!

No Chronic Wasting Disease detected in NC deer herd. Learn more.




Migratory Game Bird Seasons Approved for 2021-22 

The Wildlife Commission has approved season dates, bag limits and applicable regulations for the 2021-22 waterfowl, webless migratory game bird (including doves), and extended waterfowl seasons. A notable change is duck seasons are now established within two duck hunting zones, Coastal and Inland, which are separated by Interstate 95. Up to three season segments are allowed in each zone and can change annually. Federal frameworks require the zones to remain in place through the 2025-26 season. Daily bag limits will be the same in both zones.


Temporary Rule Notice for Hunting on Game Lands

During its business meeting on April 22, the Wildlife Commission voted to notice a temporary rule for the 2021-22 hunting season. The rule (15A NCAC 10D .0103) was adopted by the agency in February but received objections. By law, this rule is subject to legislative review, which will not be completed before the 2021-22 hunting season regulations are published on Aug. 1. Enacting a temporary rule will help avoid public confusion when the season starts. Proposed temporary amendments to the rule include all previously adopted changes except for the prohibition of horseback riding on William H. Silver Game Land and the name change of Alcoa Game Land to Yadkin River Game Land. An online public hearing will be held May 13 at 6 p.m.


National Police Week is May 9 – 15 

Wildlife Law Enforcement Officers have a unique job within the law enforcement community. They not only enforce the laws that protect the public, but also N.C.’s wildlife resources. Please join the Commission in honoring its 200+ officers who wear the uniform proudly and go above and beyond to risk their safety in the interest of others and our wild places. Give them a “shout out” on the agency’s Facebook page and take a moment to remember the 11 wildlife officers who have died in the line of duty.


Wildlife Diversity Program Annual Report Published

The Commission’s Wildlife Diversity Program conducts projects that target nongame animals and their habitats. Oftentimes game species —such as deer, turkey, mountain trout and black bass — also benefit from this work because they share many of the same habitats. The recently published 2020 Wildlife Diversity Program Annual Report provides an overview of these vital projects and the species they benefit.


REMINDER! Donate a portion of your NC tax refund to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund.

Simply check line 30 on your state income tax by May 17.




Beachgoers Be Alert for Sea Turtle Nests

Efforts to protect sea turtle nests and nesting areas along the N.C. coast are showing positive results in the loggerhead sea turtle population. Sea turtles nest individually on ocean facing beaches from May through August. Hatchlings emerge from the nests between July and November. If you’re heading to the beach, stay alert for sea turtle nests, as well as posted and protected areas. Your courtesy and caution are appreciated.


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

Whether you are operating a vessel or vehicle, please don’t drink and drive. The Wildlife Commission urges the public to be responsible while enjoying the road and the water through its annual On the Road, On the Water campaign. Safety checks and events will kick off on May 28 at Lake Chatuge and other recreational areas across the state in cooperation with local police and sheriffs’ offices, State Highway Patrol and partner organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Also consider these boating safety best practices:

  • Wear a life jacket.
  • Check your gear to ensure its not faulty or expired.
  • Restock first aid kits and batteries.
  • Test your knowledge with a boater education course.
  • CLEAN equipment of all aquatic plants, animals and mud
  • DRAIN water from boats, live wells and all equipment
  • DRY all equipment thoroughly
  • NEVER MOVE fish, plants, or other organisms from one body of water to another
  • LEARN MORE: ncwildlife.org/ANS



Let Bats Be 

May 1 marked the first day of pup rearing for bats. If you suspect bats may be living in your home, leave them be until the end of July so they can rear their young. In the meantime, wildlife biologists suggest contacting a Wildlife Control Agent who can seal off any entryways that lead into your living space to minimize the chance of human interaction. Bats return to the same roost each spring, so if you’d like to offer an alternative roost for them next year, consider installing a bat house.


BearWise Basics

The Wildlife Commission is already seeing a spike in black bear reports this spring due to the state’s growing residential footprint and people moving closer to bear habitat. Remember these six BearWise Basics

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


For questions regarding bears and other human-wildlife interactions, contact the Commission’s NC Wildlife Helpline, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., at 866-318-2401 or email anytime at HWI@ncwildlife.org.




PRO TIP: Provide Flowers, Not Feeders

BearWise biologists and Audubon North Carolina recommend growing native plants to attract birds as an alternative to hanging bird feeders. Native plants provide the full range of healthy foods birds need year-round and are more naturally spread across the landscape. Not only does this prevent the spread of bird diseases like salmonellosis, but it also removes artificial feeders, which encourages visits by wildlife like bears, coyotes and raccoons.



The 2021 Youth Hunter Education Skills Tournament (YHEST) state championships were held on April 24. Elkin High Elks team won the overall senior division and Gray Stone Middle team won the overall junior division. View all the results on the YHEST webpage.


On Earth Day, April 22, the 2020 Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award was presented to Allen Boynton of Troutdale, Virginia. Boynton’s nomination was submitted by colleagues who acknowledged Boynton’s outstanding achievements throughout his 40-year career in wildlife conservation. Read the full press release here.


Sometimes Fishing Isn't Just About Fishing!

Opportunities Await, Renew or Purchase Your Fishing License Today.

Your license provides you access to fish our state’s beautiful lakes, rivers and streams. The fees from your license renewal, 100% in fact, are re-invested in conservation across our great state to ensure healthy fish populations and make these opportunities possible. 

Your fishing license is just a click away!


Upcoming Classes, Workshops & Programs:

Virtual and in-person opportunities are available! 

May 13, ForestHer NC, Protecting Your Woods Webinar Series #2: Non-timber income and agritourism

May 19, NC Bird Atlas: Beginner’s Guide, An Introduction to NC Bird Atlas for new birders and altasers

May 29, Beyond BOW, Introduction to Kayak Fishing for Women


Ongoing classes:

John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, Fayetteville

Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, Pisgah Forest

Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, Corolla 




Species Spotlight // Red Crossbill