An online public hearing for proposed 2021-22 fishing, hunting, trapping and game land regulations in North Carolina, including Sunday hunting on game lands, is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 21.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is conducting the public hearing and is accepting public comments until Feb. 1.

To participate in the public hearing, register online at https://ncwildlife.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_jef8D745QLmI6b-b81hy8Q. After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

The hearing can also be joined by phone toll free 888-788-0099 or 877-853-5247 using Webinar ID: 928 5632 3468.

Comments may be submitted online via the Commission’s comment portal https://www.ncpaws.org/PAWS/WRC/PublicComments/PublicComments.aspx, by sending an email to regulations@ncwildlife.org or sending a letter to Rule-making Coordinator, 1701 Mail Service Center, Raleigh N.C. 27699-1701.

Proposed changes to hunting on game lands include a four-day weekly schedule during open seasons: on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

On Sundays, the following is proposed to be prohibited: hunting between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.; the use of a firearm to take deer that are run or chased by dogs; hunting within 500 yards of a place of religious worship, as defined by G.S. 14-54.1(b), or any accessory structure thereof.

Other proposed hunting changes include the addition of sling bows as permitted archery equipment for taking white-tailed deer. Sling bows continue to increase in popularity as a manner of take and were made legal in North Carolina for wild turkey, small game animals, non-game animals and non-game fish in 2019.

Also for white-tailed deer hunting with blackpowder firearms, also known as muzzle-loaders, the state currently prohibits weapons with the propellant loaded through the breech. The proposed amendment to this rule will allow for propellants loaded through the breech, as new products are available in the form of pre-loaded powder capsules, that make the loading, reloading, and unloading aspect of using a muzzleloader much easier and safer for hunters.

Another proposed rule change would allow but not require the use of electronic remote trap checking devices. Additionally, trappers could use as many of these devices as they want, as long as the requirements of the rule are met. As such, any costs incurred by the trapper would be by choice, not necessity.

Currently, with the exception of completely submerged conibear-type traps, trappers are required to physically check their traps daily. While this is likely not an issue for many trappers, wildlife control agents (who trap depredating wildlife for compensation) have expressed interest in allowing remote trap checking systems in leu of a physical trap check in order to maximize cost effectiveness and improve animal welfare.

Remote trap checking systems are increasingly being authorized for use throughout the country as a substitute for physical trap checks. The advantages to using remote trap checking systems is that the trapper is immediately alerted to a trap that has been activated, likely indicating an animal capture. The user is then able to prioritize checking activated traps, which can improve animal welfare (the animal is not held as long in the trap, thus reducing stress and exposure to the elements) and decrease trapper time and resources for unnecessary trap checks.

A proposed change to bear hunting would require successful bear hunters to submit at least one upper premolar tooth from their harvested bear no later than January 31 of the year following the successful hunting season. Requiring submittal will increase the data needed for the agency to make confident management decisions.

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