Proposed changes include:
• Allowing bear baiting with unprocessed food — on private lands only — during the first half of bear season in the mountains and during the entire bear season in the coastal plains. Adopting the proposal would make permanent a temporary rule that was adopted last year. The goal is to increase bear harvest and to “reduce the inequity” between hunters who use dogs and hunters who don’t use dogs.
• Allowing trappers to use unused tags purchased in one season during the following season. The rule change aims to reduce the regulatory burden on trappers.
• Establishing the 1,925-acre William H. Silver Game Land in Haywood County as a six-day-per-week game land with an introductory either-sex deer season.
• Creating a third archery season segment in the Western deer season for antlered bucks only, to open the Sunday immediately after the last day of gun season and closing Jan. 1. The measure was requested by local hunters and implementation will have negligible impacts on the deer population, according to the Wildlife Commission.
• Allowing bank angling on Lake Calderwood in Graham County under a reciprocal agreement between North Carolina and Tennessee, which manage the state line lake jointly. The rule change, requested by Tennessee, would mean that anglers with North Carolina licenses could fish the Tennessee side of the lake and visa versa. The agreement is already in place for anglers fishing from a boat but not for anglers fishing from the shore.
• Redefining “youth” as anyone under 18 years old and allowing youth to participate in youth either-sex deer hunts, Youth Deer Hunting Day, Spring Youth-only Wild Turkey Season, Youth-only Delayed Harvest Trout Water Season and any youth hunts on game lands.
• Eliminating the use of paper big game harvest record sheets. Instead, hunters would report big game harvest by phone or online. Adoption of the proposal would complete the conversion from paper to electronic harvest data, a process that began with wild turkey harvest reporting in 2003.
The full proposal is available at ncpaws.org/PAWS/WRC/PublicComments/PublicEntry/ProposedRegulations.aspx.
The 19 wildlife commissioners will vote on the proposals at their Feb. 16 meeting. Approved proposals would take effect Aug. 1.