Wildlife Commission Email Updates

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


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


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

2021 N.C. Wildlife Updates

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 

The red crossbill is part of the finch family and listed as a species of special concern in North Carolina, indicating a need for monitoring. But monitoring is challenging because flocks are nomadic, covering long distances in search of the next big conifer cone crop. That challenge made finding an active red crossbill nest in the DuPont State Recreational Forest a very exciting project for a couple of our wildlife diversity staff. Read their story and learn more about the red crossbill on our blog.


April 9, 2021

Turkey Season is Here!

Wild turkey hunting season opened on April 3 with one week dedicated to youth hunting. The statewide season runs April 10 – May 8. Hopes are high that it will be another impressive harvest season, as the turkey population remains robust.

Last month, the agency published a gobbling chronology report summarizing the findings of a four-year study that tracked wild turkey gobbling activity across the state. The data confirmed high levels of gobbling activity in April and May, likely leading to high levels of hunter satisfaction. 

Hunters are limited to two turkeys for the season, only one of which may be taken during the youth season. As you prepare for your hunt, please remember our Home from the Hunt safety tips and to report your turkey harvest on a Big Game Harvest Report Card


Hatchery Supported Waters Now Open 

Approximately 900 miles of Hatchery Supported Trout Waters are now open in western N.C. until Feb. 28, 2022. Staff will continue to stock the waters with nearly 787,000 trout through August — 96% of which will average 10 inches in length, with the other 4% exceeding 14 inches in length. Anglers can harvest a maximum of seven trout per day, with no minimum size limit or bait restriction. Hatchery Supported Trout Waters are open to public fishing, however many of those miles are privately owned. Please respect the property where you fish. Read our guidelines here


Striped Bass Harvest on the Lower Roanoke River Opens Saturday

The striped bass harvest season in the Roanoke River Management Area opens Saturday and will run:

  • April 10–16 in the lower river zone (downstream of the U.S. Highway 258 bridge at Scotland Neck to the mouth at Albemarle Sound).
  • April 24–30 in the upper river zone (upstream of the U.S. Highway 258 bridge at Scotland Neck to the base of Roanoke Rapids Dam)

Fishing reports from the Roanoke, Tar, Neuse and Cape Fear rivers will be posted weekly on the agency’s Coastal Rivers Fisheries Reports webpage, providing data from springtime electrofishing sampling and creel survey updates for striped bass, American shad and hickory shad.


Springtime in the Wild

Increased songbird chatter and swirling pollen mean spring is here. As critters emerge from their winter habitats and forage for food, please remember to leave wildlife alone. Wild parents often go exploring, leaving their young behind for both short and long periods of time. Fight the urge to handle, remove or feed young animals that you think are orphaned. Instead, call the NC Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401. A wildlife biologist will help to assess the situation and determine next steps. 


Wildlife Enforcement Officer Performs Lifesaving Mission

Last month, Master Officer David Ritzheimer assisted in the rescue of a kayaker who had turned his vessel over on Falls Reservoir and had been underwater for several minutes. Ritzheimer and a deputy from the Stanly County Sheriff's Office took turns performing CPR for multiple minutes before the kayaker was revived and able to breath on his own. The kayaker was then taken to the hospital for treatment.

An act of heroism like this makes being a wildlife enforcement officer rewarding and unique. If you have a passion for the outdoors and want to serve your community like Officer Ritzheimer, a career in our law enforcement division may be right for you.


Shorebirds and Colonial Waterbirds Are Nesting

Keep an eye out for bird nests found directly on the sandy beaches or islands along the sound this April through August. Nests are difficult to see since eggs and chicks blend in with the sand. Wildlife Commission biologists and cooperators have marked known areas with posts and signage, but some areas may not be marked. Extra caution is appreciated!


We Make Great Neighbors

The Wildlife Commission has recently partnered with the Nextdoor social platform, which gives us the ability to reach more N.C. residents than ever before. We’ll have the ability to target information by region, county and even neighborhood. We look forward to using Nextdoor in exciting new ways, such as region-specific, wildlife-related alerts including prescribed burns on game lands and bear interactions, to statewide information such as hunting and fishing season dates and regulations.


WINC on YouTube 

Wildlife in North Carolina's new YouTube channel will complement magazine articles with additional video footage. Featured content will include "Wild & Tasty" recipes, on-the-scene coverage, interviews, how-to demonstrations, promotional information and more.



New Guidance on Zebra Mussels: The Wildlife Commission continues to monitor the zebra mussel situation in N.C., as the invasive species was found in aquatic moss balls sold throughout the country and the state. If you’ve purchased moss balls since Feb. 1, please review our new informational video and updated alert about the 3 Ds. DESTROY. DISPOSE. DISINFECT.

Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee Seeking Members: Nominations for expert and at-large seats. Individuals should apply by April 30.

Nominate an Individual or Organization for the Lawrence G. Diedrick Small Game Award: Nominations for both the individual and organization categories are being accepted through May 1. View nomination procedures here.

Tax Deadline Extended May 17: Donate a portion or all of your refund to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund. Simply check line 30 on your state income tax form or tell you tax preparer you’d like to donate. If you’re e-filing, check the box to donate when prompted.

Already filed? Give year-round to the N.C. Wildlife Diversity Endowment Fund or register for a Wildlife Conservation license plate.

NC Bird Atlas Surveying has Begun: Follow the program as it takes flight on Facebook and Twitter.


Wildlife Recreation Guide

Curious about what you can hunt, fish and trap this time of year? Check out our Regulations Digest online.


Inland Fishing

Wild Turkey

  •   Statewide, April 10 – May 8

Your license is just a click away!


Upcoming Classes, Workshops & Programs:

Virtual and in-person opportunities are available!

Beyond BOW, Fly-Fishing Basics for Women, April 17

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

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 // Feral Swine 

Feral swine are non-native invaders, capable of severe impacts on native wildlife and plants. They tend to be covered in stiff, bristly hair and can be white, black, brown or red in color. Feral swine can be up to 6 feet long, 40 inches tall and between 150 – 220 pounds. Although shy and elusive, they can thrive in urban, suburban and rural areas across N.C.  

Feral swine forage by digging up soil. This rooting behavior causes at least $1.5 billion in damage annually to stream banks, crops, landscaping, etc. across the U.S. Due to this behavior and the diseases they can transmit, they are deemed highly destructive and should be removed wherever they occur. Trapping of entire groups with corral-style traps followed by targeted removal of any remaining pigs is the best method of control. Read more about feral swine here.  

To address the harmful impacts of feral swine to wildlife and natural resources, the Wildlife Commission is part of the NC Feral Swine Task Force, a partnership with the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, N.C. Department of Health & Human Services and N.C. Cooperative Extension. The Task Force works closely with landowners to measure damages caused by feral swine and establish a collaborative, effective strategy to remove them from the landscape. Check out the task force's website to learn about managing and reporting feral swine. 


March 13, 2021

2021-2022 Rules & Regulations Updates

On. Feb. 25, the Wildlife Commission held its first business meeting of the year (agenda). Commissioners accepted 40 of the proposed rule changes related to wildlife management, inland fisheries and game lands for the 2021-22 seasons. The effective date for these regulations is Aug. 1, 2021.

Highlights of what was adopted by the Wildlife Commission include changes related to:

  • Sunday Hunting on Game Lands
  • Remote Trapping
  • Wild Quail Management Areas
  • Public Mountain Trout Waters

Hatchery Supported Trout Waters Closed Until April 3

Approximately 1,000 miles of Hatchery Supported Trout Waters are closed until April 3 at 7 a.m. Wildlife Commission personnel will stock approximately 960,000 trout — 96% of which will average 10 inches in length, with the other 4% exceeding 14 inches in length. These waters, marked by green-and-white signs, will be stocked frequently this spring and early summer. Anglers can harvest a maximum of seven trout per day, with no minimum size limit or bait restriction.


Striped Bass Harvest Questions Answered 

In January, we announced the reduced striped bass harvest season in the Roanoke River Management Area. This caught a lot of anglers off guard and angered many others. Chad Thomas, the Wildlife Commission’s coastal fisheries supervisor, helps sort through the history, science and facts that led the Wildlife Commission to make such a difficult decision

Get credit for catching “the big one” with N.C. Angler Recognition Program.

Learn more about this prestigious certificate program on our website.


Consumer Alert: Aquarium Moss Balls May Contain Invasive Zebra Mussels

If you’ve recently purchased aquarium moss balls from a local retailer or pet store, they may contain tiny zebra mussels, an invasive species that not only causes harm to other aquatic wildlife, but can also do extensive damage to pipes and water systems. If you have purchased moss balls in the past month, please carefully destroy and discard them immediately. 


Protect Vulnerable Wildlife in North Carolina

It’s tax time, which means North Carolinians have the opportunity to donate a portion or all of their tax refund to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund. Tax donations are the most significant source of non-federal funding that supports projects that benefit nongame wildlife and endangered wildlife. Check line 30 on your N.C. state income tax form or tell your tax preparer you’d like to donate. If you’re e-filing, check the box to donate when prompted. 

Read about the projects and wildlife, like the woodrat pictured above, which your donation supports in the recently published Wildlife Diversity Report.


Salmonellosis Likely Linked to Bird Feeders

A concerning number of dead goldfinches and pine siskins have been reported in yards across the state. In response, Wildlife Commission biologists had multiple carcasses tested by the Southeast Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study laboratory. The preliminary cause of death was diagnosed as salmonellosis, a common bacterial disease often fatal in songbirds that frequent bird feeders. This diagnosis has shown up in other bird fatality reports too. The Wildlife Commission is urging the public to clean feeders frequently and remove them immediately for 2 – 3 weeks if disease is suspected.

If you suspect salmonellosis, contact the Commission’s Wildlife Helpline at 1-866-318-2401, HWI@ncwildlife.org


Archery Tournament Hits Bullseye

It looked different from past years, but the North Carolina Virtual National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) Tournament took place in schools across the state Feb. 20 – 27. The student archers and coaches did a tremendous job hosting the events and following the state health department’s COVID-19 guidelines. 


This shrimp trawler, stranded in Queen’s Creek near Swansboro, was the first vessel removed by the NCWRC. 

Ahoy, Abandoned Vessels Removed

Wildlife Commission law enforcement officers and environmental specialists are putting appropriated funds from the N.C. Legislature to good work. Officers assessed and stickered over 70 abandoned and derelict vessels littering our waterways and marshes because of Hurricane Florence and other circumstances. These vessels have been an ongoing problem for municipalities and the public, and for the first time in the agency’s history, staff are able to help. Removal of the vessels will ensure protection of valuable natural resources and enhance the beauty of our waterways.


See A Bear Den? Leave It Alone! 

Black bears are very resourceful in finding places to shelter late December through April. Dens may be found in rock cavities, brush piles, tree cavities, under fallen trees, ground nests, under decks and in crawlspaces. If you find a den, either on private or public property, do not panic. Leave the area quickly and quietly, do not disturb the den for the rest of the winter season, and feel free to contact your district wildlife biologist for further guidance. 


NCWRC Education Centers: A Spring Break Destination

This spring break, plan a family road trip to one of our three education centers. We’ve got the mountains, piedmont and coast covered with the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center and the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education. You’ll be amazed by the variety of FREE classes for folks of all ages. 


The March/April issue of Wildlife in North Carolina magazine is now available. Subscribe now for just $12 a year to get your copy, which includes a how-to article on fishing for redfin pickerel, an up-close examination of a fire ant's sting and a guide for buying a hunting dog. As a bonus, read our free article about lessons learned after an experienced turkey hunter's challenging season.


Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee Seeking Members

The Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee, a board of North Carolina citizens that provides advice to the Wildlife Commission on nongame wildlife conservation issues across the state, is accepting nominations for expert and at-large seats. Individuals should apply by April 30.


Nominate an Individual or Organization for Small Game Award 

Nominations are now being accepted for the Lawrence G. Diedrick Small Game Award. This prestigious honor recognizes meaningful contributions of an individual or organization that benefit North Carolina’s small game populations and/or small game habitat. Nominations for both individuals and organization categories are now being accepted through May 1. 

Read about our state’s wildlife species and habitats in spring edition of The Upland Gazette.


NC Bird Atlas 101 Workshop

Join us for a virtual NC Bird Atlas workshop on Tuesday, March 16 at 7 p.m. Learn all the information you need to get started on this state-wide community science survey. Bird watchers of all levels are welcome. 


Bear e-Stamp Survey Reminder

The agency continues to seek feedback from bear e-stamp holders. The information gathered will guide the Wildlife Commission’s management decisions for black bears and bear hunters, and be used to evaluate current and future regulations and statutes. Please complete our online questionnaire, even if you did not hunt for bears during the 2020 season.


Public Comment Period for Waterfowl, Webless and Extended Falconry Seasons

Each year, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service provides season date frameworks from which the Wildlife Commission may choose hunting season dates within the established guidelines. March 12 – 29, the agency is seeking public comment on the 2021-22 season dates under various species categories. It’s important that you review the changes proposed and that we hear from you. Thank you!


Wildlife Recreation Guide

Curious about what you can hunt, fish and trap this time of year? Check out our Regulations Digest online.


Inland Fishing

Light Geese (conservation order season, by permit only)

Coming up:

Wild Turkey

  •   Youth Wild Turkey Season, April 3 – 9
  •   Statewide, April 10 – May 8

Need a license? It’s just a click away!


Upcoming FREE Classes, Workshops & Programs:

Virtual and in-person opportunities are available!

Beyond BOW, Fly-Fishing Basics for Women, April 17

Ongoing classes:

John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, Fayetteville

Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, Pisgah Forest

Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, Corolla


Jan. 30, 2021

Changes to the 2021 Striped Bass Harvest Season on the Roanoke 

In mid-January, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) issued a proclamation outlining significant changes to the 2021 striped bass harvest season in the Roanoke River Management Area.

The 2021 harvest dates will be:

  • April 10–16 in the lower river zone (downstream of the U.S. Highway 258 bridge at Scotland Neck to the mouth at Albemarle Sound).
  • April 24–30 in the upper river zone (upstream of the Highway U.S. 258 bridge at Scotland Neck to the base of Roanoke Rapids Dam).

The harvest reduction was deemed a necessary conservation action intended to rebuild the striped bass population after results from a 2020 stock assessment indicated that the stock was overfished, and overfishing was occurring. 

Read more about the changes to the 2021 Roanoke River striped bass harvest season here

View map of impacted areas here.

Watch NCWRC’s webinar “Cooperating, Collaborating and Planning for Coastal Striped Bass Management” presented by Research Director David Cobb and Anadromous Research Coordinator Jeremey McCargo for a deep dive into striped bass management efforts.

Wildlife Diversity Award Nominations Close Jan. 31

Now is the time to submit your nomination for the 2021 Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award that honors an individual who has made a significant commitment to, and provided leadership in, the promotion the conservation of nongame species and their habitats in North Carolina. The award recipient will be announced this summer. 

Make Your Voice Heard Now

The public comment period for proposed changes to the 2021-2022 inland fishing, hunting, trapping and game land regulations will close on Monday, Feb. 1 at 11:59 p.m. If you haven’t had the opportunity to review the proposals a pre-recorded overview is available.  

We want to hear from you! Please submit your comments on the agency’s online portal, by email or by mail to Rule-Making Coordinator, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, 1701 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1700

Stunning Portrait of Common Grackle Wins Photo Competition

Matt Cuda of Tobaccoville, a 48-year-old software developer who has been dabbling in amateur photography since 1995, won the grand prize in the 2020 Wildlife in North Carolina Photo Competition. The winning image, a portrait shot of a common grackle, was featured on the January/February 2021 edition of Wildlife in North Carolina and earned Cuda $200.

Read more about Cuda’s submission and the other category winners at WINC online, or consider a subscription to WINC —available in print and digital editions. 

NCWRC improvements to the Lake Hinson Park project included a rebuild of the public fishing pier, a new retaining wall, a new concrete boat ramp, two new floating docks and major repairs to the facility’s walkways. 

Division Spotlight: NCWRC Engineering Team Restores Hinson Lake Boat Ramp 

NCWRC has a team of 22 engineers and construction technicians dedicated to improving facilities to better serve you. They are constantly improving water access areas, public wildlife and fishing facilities, and supporting game lands maintenance and NCWRC’s infrastructure across the state.

In January, the team completed the reconstruction of Hinson Lake Park Boating Access Area in Rockingham. Thanks to the hard work of NCWRC’s engineers and construction crew, and Rockingham county partners, this facility can once again be enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts for many years to come. 

Bird Programs Ready To Take Flight

Whether you are an experienced birder, or simply enjoy bird watching in your yard, check out these exciting opportunities for you to take part in avian conservation.

  • The Great Backyard Bird Count, Feb. 12–15, encourages bird enthusiasts of all levels to watch, count and report about birds in their communities to help scientists better understand global bird populations.
  • The NC Bird Atlas is the first project of its kind in North Carolina, spearheaded by NCWRC and in partnership with multiple organizations. The 5-year study begins this spring and volunteers are needed.

Helpful birding resources: NCBirdingTrail.org, Top 5 Bird Identification Resources.

Donate to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund at Tax Time

Individuals will be able to start filing their income taxes on Feb. 12. If you expect to receive a refund, please consider donating it to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund. This can be done by checking the box on line 30 on your tax form or clicking “yes” when asked the question when filing with electronically. Your participation is crucial in securing adequate funding to protect the future of nongame and endangered species.

If you do not expect a refund, but want to support nongame wildlife, please consider a direct gift to the N.C. Wildlife Diversity Endowment Fund.

Feedback Needed from Hunters for Annual Bear e-Stamp Survey 

NCWRC is seeking important feedback from bear e-stamp holders so agency staff can determine:

  • Number of active bear hunters in NC.
  • Success rates by harvest method.
  • Changes in harvest levels due to changes in hunting methods.
  • Trends in the overall bear population.

This information will guide the NCWRC’s management decisions for Black Bears and bear hunters, and be used to evaluate current and future regulations and statutes. Please complete our online questionnaire, even if you did not hunt for bears during the 2020 season. Your immediate response is appreciated. 

Prescribed Burns Likely Coming to a Game Land Near You

Each winter, NCWRC staff begin to conduct a series of prescribed burns throughout the state. The agency is scheduled to burn approximately 35,000 acres January-July, so don’t be alarmed if you see smoke on a game land near you. 

Wildlife Recreation Guide

Curious about what you can hunt, fish and trap this time of year? Check out our Regulations Digest online.


§ Special note: Youth & Veterans/Military Waterfowl Days are Feb. 6 & Feb. 13

Need a license? It’s just a click away!


Were you new to hunting or fishing in 2020? If so, the Wildlife Commission's Education Division would love to hear your story! 

Email us at wrceducation@ncwildlife.org with a few details about your new hunting or fishing experience, including how you got started, where you went and how you did. 


Upcoming FREE Classes, Workshops & Programs:

Virtual and in-person opportunities are available!

ForestHer NC, Enjoying your Woods Webinar #2, Recreational Trails & Aesthetic Forestry

Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, Corolla

John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, Fayetteville

Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, Pisgah Forest

Turkey Hunting Skills Based Seminars, Statewide

Species Spotlight // The Nine-banded Armadillo

The cute, yet not so cuddly, Nine-banded Armadillo arrived in N.C. in the late 2000s, and is primarily observed in the western part of the state, although statewide sightings are increasing. They are classified in the same order as anteaters and sloths, and are the only mammals that have a shell, which consists of hardened skin plates covering their bodies.

The “armored pig” forages the forest floor with its long snout and long, sticky and flexible tongue for grubs, termites, fire ants and worms —usually alone at night, but also during the day in the winter. Their tell-tale sign is multiple shallow holes in the yard. Their digging habits have been known to dismantle gardens, flower beds and lawns.

Armadillos can be trapped during the regulated trapping season (Nov. 1 through the end of Feb.) or with a depredation permit. They can also be hunted year-round. It is illegal to relocate or poison an armadillo. If you observe an armadillo, call the NC Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401 or email NCWRC


Fact or fiction? Armadillos carry leprosy.

Fact: Armadillos, like humans, can contract leprosy, however; it is relatively uncommon and your chance of exposure is low, especially if you wear gloves when in contact with any wildlife and when gardening.


Research provided by Colleen Olfenbuttel, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, 2019.

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